TODAY'S QUESTION: Should the niqab be banned from public schools and universities in Syria?

Friday, July 23, 2010 | 1:48 p.m. CDT; updated 2:55 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 23, 2010

The niqab, or full-face veil, has been banned from Syrian universities, and female students wearing the veils will be barred from entering the universities, according to a story from the BBC.

Syrian Minister of Higher Education Ghiyath Barakat reportedly said the practice ran counter to academic values and traditions of Syrian universities and came in a response to requests from students and parents.

The ban on the niqab is aimed at continuing Syria’s stance as a secular nation. Syria has struggled to remain a secular state since the 1971 presidential election of Hafez Hassad, who worked to pacify ethnic and religious tensions that had plagued Syria since it became independent from France in 1936. Syria is comprised of 74 percent Sunni Muslims, 12 percent Alawis, 10 percent Christians and 3 percent Druze.

Bassam Qadhi, a Syrian women’s rights activist, said that while many describe the choice to wear a niqab as a “personal freedom,” she believes the religious practice of requiring women to wear niqabs is oppressive. But many in the Muslim community view the burqa and the niqab as a religious symbol and obligation and consider the ban an attempt to keep women out of universities.

Some students in Syria have said they will continue to wear the niqab to class, even if this means not being able to enter their university.

Should the niqab, along with other religious symbols, be banned from public schools and universities in Syria?

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Ray Shapiro July 23, 2010 | 7:23 p.m.

Any article of clothing which conceals the identity of the person should not be allowed in public schools and universities because of security reasons.
The wearing of religious or ornamental accessories which do not cause excessive physical or mental distractions to the other students should be tolerated.
Any student wearing a dead chicken around their neck during Vegan Week at Syria U should be shunned. Whether for political, religious or just plain hygienic reasons.

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