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