Egypt Islamists demand minister quit over veil remarks 


Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has called for Culture Minister Faruq Hosni to be sacked for saying the wearing of Islamic veils was a "regressive" trend.

"We have presented an urgent appeal to parliament demanding that Culture Minister Faruq Hosni be relieved of his duties after statements in which he said that wearing the veil is 'regressive'," Muslim Brotherhood deputy Hamdi Hassan told AFP. 

Hassan, who initiated the appeal, urged parliament to "remove this minister and replace him with a minister of culture who will respect our constitution, our Sharia (Islamic law) and our values". 

"The appeal was presented to parliament on Thursday evening, and will be examined in the coming days," he said. In an interview published Thursday, Hosni said that the ever-growing number of women wearing the Islamic veil in Egypt was regressive. 

"There was an age when our mothers went to university and worked without the veil. It is in that spirit that we grew up. So why this regression?," the minister said in the independent Al-Masri Al-Yom daily. 

"Each woman with her beautiful hair is like a flower, and should not be concealed from the view of others," Hosni said in his interview, arguing: "Religion today focuses on appearances too much. 

"A woman's true veil is the inner veil, not the visible one. The relationship between God and a person does not hinge on the latter's sartorial decisions.

" Hassan retorted: "If Mr. Hosni has personal opinions on any subject, he should keep them for his private conversations, and not use his official position to impose them on public opinion, by giving views that are contrary to our traditions and religious principles.

" The Islamist group's deputy supreme guide, Mohammed Habib, for his part said Hosni's statements would pave the way for "obscenity." "Qualifying wearing the veil as regressive is an invitation for obscenity," he told AFP. 

Habib accused Hosni of attempting to "destroy the cultural characteristics of the Islamic nation" and wanting to "throw himself into the arms of the West, which attacks the wearing of the veil." 

"The stench of the government has invaded us with its corruption, its human rights violations and its failure to improve conditions for its citizens," said Habib. 

"The minister's statements and the controversy which will follow, can only be a government attempt to divert the attention of citizens of the fundemental problems, like the freedoms that the government refuses to grant them," he said. 

The Muslim Brotherhood, officially banned in Egypt, now controls one fifth of the parliament after it fielded candidates as independents in the November-December 2005 parliamentary elections. 

Most Muslim clerics consider wearing the veil to be a religious obligation, and growing conservatism has seen most women take up the veil in Egypt, formerly considered one of the most liberal societies in the Middle East..

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