I find this to be a stupid campaign and waste of money. Why not educate the masses about drinking, smoking, zina and so on...?
Cairo: In a bid to curb the surge in donning the niqab (a full-face veil), among its female employees, the Ministry of Waqfs (Religious Endowments), has embarked on a controversial campaign to discourage wearing this garb.
"We are not asking the niqab wearers to take it off. The aim of our campaign, based on awareness-raising seminars, is to prove to them that the niqab was originally an Arabian costume in pre-Islamic times," said Selim Abdel Gelil, an aide to the Minister of Waqfs and the one responsible for the campaign.
The campaign got off the ground this week at the premises of the ministry in Cairo and is planned to cover other cities and provinces of this predominantly Muslim country, according to the same official.
"Islam requires women to be decently dressed without obliging them to cover their faces and hands," Abdel Gelil told Gulf News.
"A telling proof is that during the haj (Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia), women are not asked to put on the niqab."
Over recent years, the niqab, which covers the woman from head to toe, has become popular in Egypt. Shops, apparently cashing in on the revival of Islamism, have sprung up in working-class and fashionable areas to sell items for Muslim women.
"I don't see any good reason for this questionable attack against Muslim outfits, including the niqab," said a fully veiled woman employee at the Ministry of Waqfs, who gave her name only as Soad.
"This campaign is a waste of public money. What harm is there for wearing the niqab?" she added.
Soad, who said she has been wearing the niqab since getting married five years ago, urges the authorities to shift focus to scantily clad girls. "These girls deserve more attention than the niqab wearers because after all they are the ones who arouse men's desires."
As part of the campaign, the ministry will publish a book titled "Niqaba Habit, not a Worship" to be distributed for free to female attendees of the seminars.
"There will also be question-and-answer sessions in order to help correct misconceptions about the niqab," said Abdel Gelil.
"Wearing the niqab is not an obligatory duty based on Islamic Sharia (Law). I think Muslims make a big mistake by concentrating on appearances and superficial things, thereby giving a bad idea about Islam," Minister of Waqfs Hamdi Zaqzouq was recently quoted as saying in the local press.
He added that niqab-wearers at his ministry would not be assigned preaching missions.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr Hatem Al Gabali has recently warned that female nurses wearing the niqab would be re-posted from hospitals to administrative jobs, saying the costume hampers them from efficiently serving patients.