Understanding the niqabi Other

On 30 January 2017 a female teacher, Thah’meena Mahmoodh, from AA. Rasdhoo was dismissed from the school for wearing the niqab (face veil). This was amid a sensational case where another female teacher, Aishath Suzee, from AA. Mathiveri was dismissed from her teaching responsibilities for wearing the niqab. This decision was directly from the Ministry of Education citing the Civil Service Regulation, Article 145a which stipulates that the the choice of dress code of a civil servant should be in a manner that the person is identifiable. In essence, and based on recent developments, this clause can be interpreted as a blanket ban on the niqab for civil servants. Debates related to the dismissal of niqabi teachers continue around theological and exegetical arguments. Religious constituencies continue to criticise women’s rights and human rights organisations for their failure to speak against this ban in a human rights perspective. While this ban impacts women’s right to work, freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom of opinion and expression among other rights, ‘liberal’ constituencies tend to either remain silent or support the government’s decision. This silence is an expression of antipathy towards the niqab which is often identified as symbolic of women’s oppression. Continue reading