Riyadh: A leading Saudi cleric hit out at
France for moving to ban Muslim face-veils, but approved Muslim women foregoing veils when visiting a country which
outlaws them, a report said on Saturday.
"It is illogical and unreasonable that the French
government undertakes such a thing, which is condemned by neutral people, not just Muslims, because the secular state assures freedom of religion," Sheikh Aed al-Qarni told
"The state has to respect religious rituals and beliefs, including those of Muslims," he said in an interview.
However, he added, if Muslim women are in a country
that has banned the niqab, or full-face veil, or if they face
harassment in such a place, "it is better that the Muslim
woman uncovers her face."
Numerous scholars of various Islamic schools of
thought agree on this point, Qarni said.
"For Saudi tourists who face such a decision, there is
a point in Islamic law where God says: `So fear Allah as much
as you can.`
"We must not confront people in their own country or
other countries, or bring hardship on ourselves."
His comments followed France`s parliament voting on
July 13 to ban the niqab.
The French senate will vote on the measure in
September, after which it could still be challenged on
Several other European countries are also debating
possible bans on the face veil.
Nearly all women in Saudi Arabia, one of the most
conservative Muslim countries, don the face covering in
public, although an increasingly large minority are daring to
go without it.