Yazar The Economist August 29th 2015
|Haughty about the hijab |
The Economist August 29th 2015
Women campaign against places that ban the veil
|EARLY all women in Egypt, whose |
population is 90% Muslim, wear a
veil. Same prefer a hijab, which covers the hair only; others a niqab, which leaves only a slit for the eyes; but few appear in public unveiled. So it would seem foolish for any Egyptian business to exc1ude covered women. Yet that is exact-
ly what same fancy restaurants, pools and beach resorts are doing.
A manager at the Lemon Tree, a restaurant with three outlets, says the owners "do not think it is appropriate" for veiled women after 8pm. A Kempinski hotel in Cairo bans veils in the bar. The Steigen-
berger Golf Resort in Gouna, a beach town, makes veiled women swim in a separate pool.
as women who wear the
headscarf are called in Arabic, are now naming and shaming places on a Face- bookpage called "Hijab Racism". Some restaurants have rushed to c1arify their policies. The only time we would turn anyone away is if we were full, wrote the
owners ofLilly's, a cafe in Zamalek, a posh part of Cairo.
The veil was rare in the Middle East's cities and towns in the 1970S, but mass migration from the countryside-where it was often worn for traditional rather than religious reasons-made it more common. Several countries have at-tempted to regulate Muslim attire. Turkey
banned traditional dress-for men-in the 1930S; the veil was later banned in public institutions. France and Belgium ban the full face covering. At the other end of the
spectrum, in Saudi Arabia and Iran Islamic garb is compulsory for women.
Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's president, is a devout Muslim. But, like other Arab strongmen, he portrays himself as the alternative to Islamists. He has regulated
|mosque sermons and is changing school textbooks, Earlier this month his educa- tion minister said he would prefer prim- ary school girls not to wear the hijab. (Tunisia's president, Beji Caid Essebsi, wants to ban it.) |
Mr Sisi doubtless thinks he is doing
something popular. By same reckonings (there are no trustworthy statistics) Egyp-
tian women started shedding the ve il as a sign of resistance to the deeply unpopular Muslim Brotherhood, which ruled for just over a year after the fall ofHosni
Yet citizerıs generally don't !ike being told what to do. In 2013 Turkey's ruling AKP party decided to loosen restrictions. In 2011 Syria reversed a year-old ban on the niqab in universities. Egypt's government seems to be treading carefully. On August 3rd Khaled Abbas, the tourism minister, said the government will shut down establishments banning covered
women. So far, though, he has done notlıing.
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