07/26/2010, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA

Islamic scholars: if the veil is banned, Muslim women may uncover their face

Leading Saudi experts have criticized the French government decision, which denies freedom of religion, but agree that Muslim women are "allowed" or "it is better to" show their face when required by the law of the host country .

Riyadh (AsiaNews) - Muslim women living in or travelling to countries where face-veils are forbidden are allowed “to forgo covering their face". The statement came from a leading Saudi scholar Aed Al-Qarn, with the support of Mohamed al-Nujaimi, a scholar of Islamic jurisprudence and other experts in a country where almost all women wear face-veils, despite a tiny minority, so far tolerated, who do not wear full face-covering veils.

Al-Qarn’s statement began; " It is illogical and unreasonable that the French government undertakes such a thing, which is condemned by neutral people, not just Muslims, because the secular state assures freedom of religion" . "The State - he added - must respect the religious traditions, including those of Muslims."

That said, if Muslim women are in a country that has banned the niqab, or full-face veil, or if they face harassment in such a place, "it is better that the Muslim woman uncovers her face."

Similarly, even though he only speaks in reference to the French case Nujaimi, in a statement posted on the Saudi Al-Watan, said that " For a woman who permanently resides in France or is a French citizen, if there is harm in wearing the veil ... it is permitted that she shows her face when need and necessity demand it".  

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