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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Head to head: Cairo campus veil verdict
Egyptian women wearing the niqab
An Egyptian court recently ruled that the American University of Cairo could not ban women wearing a niqab, or full Islamic face veil on campus.

The woman student who brought the case, Iman el-Zainy, explains why she wants to wear the veil on campus. Another AUC student, Yusra Sultan, sets out why she opposes the court ruling. From BBCArabic.com.

Click here to read about the court case

IMAN EL-ZAINY, LECTURER, AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY, CAIRO

I'm delighted with the court's decision. It allows me to practice my personal freedom and to pursue my studies which were affected when I was banned from entering the American University campus.

In 2001 the security guards at the American University denied me entry, so I decided to file a law suit. The court found in my favour but the university refused to comply with the verdict.

I think the new verdict represents a victory to all veiled women, as the ruling applies to all Egyptian universities.

I never objected to having my identity checked, even if a man carried it out.

I disagree with those who believe that the veil may be used to hide the identity of the individual.

It is like any other type of dress or uniform, such as a doctor's coat or a policeman's uniform.

The face veil does not hinder communication. I'm a lecturer at the al-Azhar University in Cairo, and I don't have a problem communicating with students.

What matters is how I explain the material I teach, not what I wear.

Wearing the veil is an exercise in personal freedom.

As nudists call for having nudist beaches and gays call for equal marriage rights, so women who wear the veil should have the right to wear what they choose.

YUSRA SULTAN, STUDENT, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF CAIRO

Yusra Sultan

I think that a student who wears the face veil is isolating herself and refusing to be seen by others, which is a problem on campus.

The university and the campus are places where students should be able to engage with each other. Some people are too intimidated by the niqab to approach a woman wearing one.

The university is also a place for cultural diversity, and I think the American University is much more culturally diverse and liberal than other universities in Egypt.

I know some students who wear the veil outside the university and remove it on campus, however reluctantly.

Most of the students in the university were following the case, and the majority of them supported the university's decision to deny her admission to the campus. I personally think the case received much more media attention than it deserved.

The American University is a private university and it has its own rules. Those who want to be admitted to its campus should follow these rules.

Moreover, the American University is also a targeted institution, and the security guards are entitled to know the identity of all those on campus.

Another point is that the grading system in the university devotes a big percentage of marks to in-class presentation. The veil is a hindrance in this respect, because it prevents interaction and communication.




SEE ALSO
Wearing the veil in the Arab world
18 Oct 06 |  Have Your Say
Libyan women consider the veil
13 Dec 06 |  Africa
Why Muslim women wear the veil
05 Oct 06 |  Middle East

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