On Monday October 5th, while visiting a girls’ high school in Cairo, Sheikh Mohamed Sayyed Tantawi, head of Al-Azhar University, Egypt, ordered a school girl to remove her niqab and stated that he would seek a ban on the face veil in all schools affiliated to Al-Azhar.
His remarks have given a ‘green light’ to efforts by various Western governments such as France, Holland, and Belgium, to ban the niqab in their own countries – an action that many Muslims recognise as just one of a cohort of desperate underhand attempts to push them towards secular values and away from Islam. The day after his comments, the Northern League – the far right political party and member of Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition – proposed legislation aimed at also banning the face veil in Italy.
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz, Women’s Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain commented, “Sheikh Tantawi is no stranger to playing fiddle to the tune of Western secular governments. His track record includes supporting the French hijab ban, advising Muslim girls to take off their hijabs to comply with this law, and shaking hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres – a butcher whose hands are soaked with the blood of thousands of Palestinians.”
“Against a backdrop of European governments who are attempting to stem the rise of Islam in their societies and coerce their Muslim communities to embrace Western values through laws such as hijab and niqab bans, his words have provided ammunition to their agenda. Furthermore, his latest comments have given succour to the propaganda war of Western governments against Islam and the Muslim woman’s dress. Therefore, rather than asking young Muslim girls to remove their veils, it is he who should hide his face in shame.”
“He reacts angrily to women wearing niqab but is indifferent to his government’s license for female tourists to parade half-naked in the holiday resorts of Egypt. He uses Islam to argue that Muslim women should uncover their faces but is muted over the secular rule of the tyrannical Mubarak regime that is trying its best to drive Islam out of society – including imprisoning and torturing those who advocate Islamic governance.”
“Tantawi and his likes who provide a pay-as-you-go, on-demand fatwa service to endorse and rubber stamp the actions of autocratic rulers and Western governments, have no credibility amongst the Muslim masses. Western leaders should therefore not be fooled into believing that edicts from such government scholars will convince Muslims to turn away on their deeply held Islamic beliefs and embrace corrupt, flawed, morally deficient secular values. If this is their hope – it is they, not Muslim women who need to remove that veil from their eyes.”