Indonesian Universities ‘Ban’ Niqab Over Fundamentalism Fears

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Although niqabs are common in Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states, they’re rare in secular Indonesia.

YOGYAKARTA (AFP) — A pair of Indonesian Islamic universities are pushing female students to ditch niqab (face veils) — with one threatening expulsion for non-compliance — as concerns grow over rising fundamentalism in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.

Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University said it issued the edict this week to more than three dozen niqab-wearing students, who will be booted from school if they refuse.

Although niqabs are common in Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states, they’re rare in secular Indonesia, where around 90 per cent of its 260 million people have traditionally followed a moderate form of Islam.

For many Indonesians, the niqab — a full veil with a small slit for the eyes — is an unwelcome Arab export and some associate it with radical Islam, which the country has wrestled with for years.

“We are a state university… we’ve been told to spread moderate Islam,” the school’s chancellor said.

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