A top Egyptian court backed a decision introduced in 2015 by a previous head of Cairo University to ban female academic staff from wearing the niqab. The ruling is final and cannot be subject to appeal.
Egypt’s official news agency said on Monday the Administrative Judiciary Court rejected an appeal, filed by 80 niqabi researchers at Cairo University, against a previous decision banning them from the face veil on campus.
Niqab, a piece of cloth worn by some Muslim women, covers the entire face except for the eyes.
Egypt's State Commissioners Authority (SCA) has recommended upholding the ban decision.
It said niqab affects the education process and communication between students and the teaching staff.
Accordingly, the Administrative Judiciary Court rejected appeals against a 2016 lower court verdict banning the niqab on grounds that it impeded interaction between students and teachers.
The court based its ruling on article 96 of the law regulating universities and which obliges teaching staff to adhere to university traditions.
It said, “If the general principle is that the public employee has the freedom to choose the dress he wears during his work provided that the dress has appropriate respect for the dignity of the job, then this freedom may carry restrictions stipulated by laws and regulations, administrative decisions, administrative custom or traditions of the job."
The court concluded that some female faculty members wearing the niqab during lectures do not achieve direct communication with students, in violation of the law.
The case goes back to 2015, when the ban was introduced by a previous head of Cairo University, two years after the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Cairo University current head Mohamed Othman Elkhosht was quoted by local media on Monday as saying his institution respected decisions taken by the judiciary but did not specify if the ban would be enforced.