Cairo: Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has waded into Egypt's "niqab" controversy, saying the full-face veil wipes out a woman's personality, the official news agency MENA reported on Wednesday.
The niqab, advocated by ultra-conservative Muslims, "cancels the personality of a woman," he said.
The Prime Minister said the niqab was a matter of personal freedom but that it should not trespass on other people's rights, warning that some students used it to cheat in exams.
However, universities should respect an administrative court's decision overturning bans on the niqab, he said.
The court last month ruled against a ban on the niqab in female schools affiliated with the Islamic Al-Azhar University.
It also ruled against an Education Ministry ban on the niqab in university residences and examination halls, saying it violated the women's constitutional liberties.
The government and Al-Azhar have shown signs of concern over the niqab, which is associated in Egypt with the ultra-conservative Salafi school of thought practiced mostly
in Saudi Arabia.
Most Muslim women in Egypt cover their hair.
The niqab is thought to be gaining ground in the Arab world's largest country, partly as a result of the growing influence of satellite television stations which air Salafi preaching.
First Published: Thursday, February 18, 2010, 09:19