Egypt lawmaker calls for total ban of 'Jewish burqa'
An Egyptian lawmaker has said members of parliament are drafting a law that would ban women from wearing the burqa in government institutions after alleging the Islamic full-face veil was a "Jewish tradition".
Amna Nosseir said on Sunday that the proposed ban would be in the best interest of Egyptian society and that she has been battling against the burqa over the past 40 years.
The London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Saturday, citing unnamed sources in parliament, that several lawmakers were working on drafting the burqa ban.
Nosseir, who wears the hijab, said on Wednesday that the burqa - known in Arabic as the niqab - had its origins in Jewish religious law.
"In the Old Testament, you find in chapter 38 that the Jewish religious authorities tell you that if Jewish women leave the house without covering the face and head then they are breaking Jewish religious law," the lawmaker said during an interview with local media.
"I have gathered around 20 texts by Jewish religious authorities that completely forbid women from showing their faces and heads," Nosseir said while discussing also banning female university students from wearing "ripped jeans" in lectures.
She added that this part of Jewish law became entrenched in pre-Islamic Arab tribes of the Arabian Peninsula and then spread throughout the Middle East with the Muslim conquests.
|Nosseir is a professor of comparative jurisprudence
at al-Azhar University [Twitter]
The verse the lawmaker could be referring to is Genesis 38, where a biblical figure encounters his daughter-in-law in the street and mistakes her for a prostitute because she had covered her face with a veil.
Only one small controversial sect of ultra-orthodox Judaism calls for women to wear burqa-style coverings of the entire body.
Egypt already has laws against the niqab in place.
In 2015, Cairo University banned academic staff from wearing the niqab in classrooms because it "hinders student-teacher communication".
The university later banned nurses and doctors from wearing it in medical schools and in teaching hospitals.