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Egypt: Veil Not a Legal Obligation

(Oct. 13, 2009) Dr. Mohammed Sayyed Tantatwi, the head of Al-Azhar in Cairo, the most prestigious religious university in the Sunni Muslim world, ordered a student in one of the schools affiliated with the university to remove her niqab (a veil covering the face). He told the student that the niqab is a tradition, not a religious obligation. (Sheikh Al-Azhar Forces a Student to Take Off Her Niqab [in Arabic], AL-MISRI AL-YOWM, Oct. 5, 2009, available at

Sheikh Ali Abu al-Hasan, former head of the Fatwa Council of the Islamic Studies Institute (ISI) in Cairo, agrees that the niqab is not required under Islamic law, but said that Al-Azhar University should allow women to choose what to wear. (Al-Azhar Face-Veil Ban Questioned, ALJAZEERA.NET, Oct. 7, 2009, available at