Indonesian universities move to 'ban' niqab

Mar 09, 2018, 09:38 IST | Agencies

A pair of Indonesian Islamic universities are pushing female students to ditch niqab face veils - with one threatening expulsion for non-compliance - as concerns grow over rising fundamentalism in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation

Some Indonesians associate niqab with radical Islam. Pic/AFP
Some Indonesians associate niqab with radical Islam. Pic/AFP

A pair of Indonesian Islamic universities are pushing female students to ditch niqab face veils - with one threatening expulsion for non-compliance - as concerns grow over rising fundamentalism in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.

Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University said it issued the edict this week to more than three dozen niqab-wearing students, who will be booted from school if they refuse. Although niqabs are common in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, they're rare in secular Indonesia, where around 90 per cent of its 260 million people have traditionally followed a moderate form of Islam.

For many Indonesians, the niqab - a full veil with a small slit for the eyes - is an unwelcome Arab export and some associate it with radical Islam, which the country has wrestled with for years. "We are a state university... we've been told to spread moderate Islam," the school's chancellor Yudian Wahyudi said. Ahmad Dahlan University, has also introduced a new prohibition on the niqab out of fears it might stir up religious radicalism, which has seen a resurgence on many of the nation's university campuses. There will be no penalty for those who refuse, it added.

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