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Egypt to ban niqab-wearing women from voting

Ultra-orthodox Muslim women [File photo]

Women wearing niqab (full Islamic face-veil) will not be allowed to vote in this month’s parliamentary election, the electoral commission has said.

Speaking at a press conference in Cairo on Thursday, commission spokesman Omar Marwan said that niqab-wearing voters must remove their outfit or else they will be prevented from voting.

The niqab, which covers a woman’s entire body from head to toe, is worn by women of ultraconservative Muslim backgrounds. In Egypt, however, it is only worn by a small minority of women.

Last week, Cairo University, one of Egypt’s oldest institutes of higher learning, barred lecturers from wearing the niqab.

Egypt’s parliamentary election is scheduled to be held in two phases starting Oct. 18-19. A second round of the vote will be held on Nov. 22-23.

The upcoming parliamentary vote will be the final step of a political “roadmap” imposed by the army in mid-2013 following the ouster of democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup.

The army’s roadmap also included a constitutional referendum and a presidential election, the latter of which brought President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – a former army chief who ousted Morsi – to power.

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