A coalition of parties in Egypt’s parliament is planning to present a draft law prohibiting women from wearing the niqab.
Parliamentary members say there are security and religious reasons for outlawing the full face veil, according to media reports.
Amna Nosseir, a professor of comparative jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, is one of the members of parliament backing the new law. She alleges face coverings were originally part of the Jewish religion rather than Islam.
“In the Talmud, if a woman leaves her house without her head and face covered, she is breaking Jewish religious law,” Nosseir said, according to the Egypt Independent.
The proposed law would ban the wearing of the niqab in public places and government buildings.
“We seek to spread moderate Islam,” Nosseir added, according to Gulf News. “Wearing the niqab in public has raised concerns in the Egyptian streets in view of the hard circumstances the country is undergoing.”
Egypt’s former Islamist President Mohammed Mursi was overthrown in a military coup in 2013. The country’s current leader is an army general, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
The Egypt Support Coalition, which backs the government and is in favor of the ban, claims to have the support of 250 members of the 595-member parliament.
Nosseir has been an outspoken critic of the niqab for 20 years.
“When Islam came, it did not impose the niqab. Islam enjoined decent dressing,” she said.
The new bill is controversial, and some have already rejected the ban.
“Ban nudity instead of banning the niqab,” professor Fouad Abdel-Moneim wrote in a message to Nosseir, according to the Egypt Independent.
He added that communities are “destroyed” wherever immorality spreads.
“Parliament has to enact laws aimed at bringing morals back to the street and stop [people] showing up in revealing dresses in public rather than banning the niqab,” he added, Gulf News reported.
Cairo University, Egypt’s main academic institution, recently banned female academic staff from wearing the niqab, citing the need to improve communication with students. A court endorsed the move in January.
A date has yet to be confirmed for the presentation of the law to parliament.