Monday, October 08, 2007

Dude drives like a lady...

Man wearing niqab tries to pass driving test as a woman.

A man concealed behind niqab - a piece of cloth that some female Muslims cover their faces with in a show of piety - pretended to be a woman during a driving test in Cairo in an incident reported by local press on Monday. The 30-year-old man had attempted to deceive authorities and pass the test for another woman in exchange for 700 Egyptian pounds (126 US dollars).

The woman, a 30-year-old teacher, was later arrested and is being questioned for charges of fraud, according to the daily al-Akhbar newspaper.

The practice of wearing the so-called niqab has started seeping into Egypt several years ago although the dress code itself was almost restricted to the Gulf countries, especially to Saudi Arabia where it is aggressively encouraged as both a tradition and a religious act.

The niqab is not confined to covering only the face, but as a tradition it means that the woman should be shrouded in a gown that covers her entire body except for the eyes. Some women even wear see- through veils over the eyes, or black sunglasses as an "extra act of piety."

Most Muslim scholars do not believe that covering the face is obligatory in Islam. However, among some circles, especially where a strict Saudi-inspired interpretation of Islam is popular, women believe that it is a must. The practice has sparked debate among Muslim liberals in Egypt. It has also been briefly banned in some educational institutions, like the American University in Cairo, for security-related reasons.

In one of Egypt's universities, women wearing the niqab were even prevented from entering the students' dorm houses so that later men disguised as female students would not sneak in.

When driving, niqab wearers could only see through two eye slits in their usually black face veils; a situation that has caused concern among many who say that when the line of sight is limited accidents could easily occur.

This is all so ridiculous, I don't know where to begin.