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'Muslim students not banned from wearing Niqab'

2013 Dec 10

By Aisha Nazim
The Higher Education Ministry states that there are no rules or regulations prohibiting female Muslim students from covering their faces, despite the Moratuwa University’s recent ban on the Niqab.
“Legally, there is nothing against it, so I cannot say what the Moratuwa University authority’s reasons for banning it. There is definitely nothing against Muslim students wearing the face-cover as you know- even school students are allowed to wear it; and they’re allowed to do so even when they come to university,” Deputy Minister of Education Nandimithra Ekanayake told Ceylon Today.
The University of Moratuwa meanwhile, states that their reasons for banning the face veil are because of security and communication issues.
When Ceylon Today queried the reason for the ban, as students claimed that there have been veiled students previously, University Registrar Vindya Jayasena stated that there have been no veiled students before.
“There haven’t been veiled Muslim students before this year, and there are no problems now. The face veil is not allowed within university premises for security and identification purposes.  It is also difficult for lecturers because all they have is eye contact because they can’t see the rest of their face. When it comes to lecturing, it’s difficult for the lecturers as they are unable to see for themselves whether the student understands them or not; because they are not able to see the face,” Jayasena said.
However, the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) pointed out that lecturers should be able to deliver their lectures with or without eye contact.
“Whether the student understands or not is up to the student. It’s a ridiculous argument that the lecturer finds it difficult to conduct a lecture. I should be able to deliver my lecture with or without eye-contact.  However, exams are different as the authorities have the right to know if the person present at the examination is the same candidate who applied for it,” FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri said, adding that except for examinations, undergraduates should be allowed to wear what they wished, especially when it comes to cultural practices.



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