Syria bans face veils at universities

The secular nation has banned the face-covering niqab from the country's public and private universities, after it's recent rise in popularity.

(FILES) -- This combination of pictures created from AFP file images on June 19, 2009 shows Muslim women wearing various type of Islamic veils, a Hijab (top L), a Niqab (top R) a Tchador (down L) and a Burqa. France's top administrative body advised the government on March 30, 2010 that a complete ban on the wearing of a full Islamic veil would be vulnerable to legal challenge. President Nicolas Sarkozy's government wants to ban women from wearing full face veils such as the niqab or the burqa and had asked the State Council for advice before proposing legislation. But the council warned that attempts to stop Muslim women from wearing veils in their homes or on the street would be legally questionable and a law should be limited to interactions with the state or security officials. AFP PHOTO (LtoR) CRIS BOURONCLE/FAROOQ NAEEM/BEHROUZ MEHRI/FARZANA WAHIDY

Syria has banned the face-covering Islamic veil from the country's universities. The Education Ministry's ban on the niqab comes as similar moves in Europe spark cries of discrimination against Muslims. An official at the ministry says the ban affects public and private universities and aims to protect Syria's secular identity. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Sunday's ban does not affect the headscarf, which many Syrian women wear. The niqab is not widespread in Syria, although it has become more common recently. It's growing popularity has not gone unnoticed in a country governed by a secular, authoritarian regime. Last month, hundreds of primary school teachers who wear the niqab were moved to administrative jobs, local media reported. * AP