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Algeria bans the “burqa” for public service employees

Algeria bans the "burqa" for public service employees.

Algeria bans the "burqa" for public service employees.

Last October 18th, the Algerian authorities chose to ban the niqab from public service jobs.

In a letter addressed to ministers and regional governors, Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouahiya announced that the niqab (or facial veil) would be banned for all Algerian civil women at their workplaces. More broadly, any clothing that would prevent women from performing their public duties would be outlawed.

Prime Minister Ouahiya considers important to be identifiable when working: “Women must respect the rules and requirements of security and communication that are in their interest”, said Ouahiya in his statement. This is the second time Algerian authorities ban the niqab in public service. In September 2017, a first ban was decreed  by the Algerian Minister of Education on niqab in schools and universities.

A roiling debate on social media

This latest decision in Algeria, whose population is made up of 98.2% of Muslims, made the round on social media, specially on Twitter.

“As an Algerian, I think we are becoming a safer country” @ Sracer2017

“When will we stop watching women and their outfits?” @Msnemah

 

Yet, if the decision seems to raise the debate today, for several years Algerian women have been challenging the conservatism of clothing in certain regions of the country. In 2017 for instance, several hundred Algerians invaded beaches in the country wearing bikinis as part of a campaign against sexism and religious fundamentalism.