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All Restaurants That Ban Veiled Women Will Be Shut Down: Egyptian Minister

All Restaurants That Ban Veiled Women Will Be Shut Down: Egyptian Minister

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Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Khaled Abbas Rami has declared that any restaurants or tourism facilities found to be banning women dressed in the hijab (headscarf) from service will be shut down.

In an interview with El-Watan, the Minister said that no decision or order had been pushed by the Ministry regulating veiled women from entering restaurants or tourism establishments.

“Given that 90 percent of women in Egypt wear the hijab, we haven’t, and we won’t, take such a decision,” said the Minister.

“We refuse discrimination in all its forms, whether its based on dress, skin color or religion,” continued the Minister, adding that the government will take “immediate steps” to “shut down any restaurant or tourism facility” that discriminates on these bases.

Citing an earlier decision, the Minister said that he had apologized personally to a Saudi tourist that had been denied entry at a restaurant in Sheikh Zayed (Greater Cairo). The restaurant was also reportedly shut down for a month over the incident that was captured on camera and released on YouTube.

Outrage grows on social media

The Minister’s latest statements come as many Egyptian women have taken to social media to complain they have been facing discrimination at restaurants and high-end resorts.

On one Facebook group called ‘Respect My Veil,’ women have been sharing their experiences of discrimination across various locations in Egypt.

A list compiled by one of the group’s members shows various restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, and even residential compounds banning veiled women from various facilities. For example, according to Mai Hashem, full-body swimsuits are not allowed at the swimming pools of Fairmont in Cairo, Stella Di Mare in Ain El Sokhna, Dream Beach in Hurghada and more.

The list also points to several restaurants and bars that ban women wearing a headscarf from entering. As reported earlier by Egyptian Streets, the headscarf is not allowed at Lemon Tree after 6PM and Riverside at night. Social media users on ‘Respect My Veil’ have added that Left Bank in Zamalek, Hayda Lebanese Restaurant, Wadi Degla Sporting Club and others do not permit the ‘abaya’.

Despite the growing outrage, and Egypt’s Tourism Ministry promising to do more, Mervat Tellawy, head of Egypt’s National Council of Women, recently told Al-Arabiya that such acts by establishments are not discriminatory.

“An establishment that prevents hijab-wearing women is just like any other that would ban a man for not wearing a suit. There are resorts that provide women-only beaches. We cannot tell them why you are not allowing men to come in,” said Tellawy in statements to Al-Arabiya, adding that some establishments implement such rules to ensure a certain “image” is maintained.

Yet, critics have argued that this ignores blanket discrimination against Egyptian women purely based on the headscarf. In a testimonial in December 2014, Dr. Heba Hamed Arnaout, a professor of microbiology, wrote how she was initially prevented from entering a restaurant-bar with her husband and two foreign friends because of her headscarf.

Dr. Arnaout wrote that this is not standard practice in Europe and that it is religious discrimination that results in veiled women being considered as ‘second class citizens’. Dr. Arnaout also questioned whether someone wearing the headscarf for any other non-religious reason, such as a cancer patient, would also be banned.

“My choice to wear the hijab should be respected,”posted one user on ‘Respect My Veil’.

“It is not a pair of jeans. It’s part of who I am.”

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  • Anand Kedar

    As a human I think there should be same law for women and men. Change is permanent and we must accept changes in positive way. As per requirement we/our government make some changes in our constitution/law time by time. Also this changes has to be made in all religious sacred books. Sometimes we should release unwanted fundamentalism.

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  • Bystanding witness

    Mme Tellawy is absolutely right!! Bravo for this great lady to speak out clearly. She is the right person in the right place.
    For all those who make a fuss about wearing out of their own free will the hijab – I know plenty of women who wear the hijab and plenty who wear the niqab … and so many of them who would love to take it off but are coerced by their female and male family members to wear it. One of my friend is so fed-up that every time she comes to our circle the first thing she does before saying “hello” is to take all these extra garms off and throw them in a corner. Freedom my foot!!! It is spelled oppression and many women go along because they don’t have the courage and support from others to get rid of this silly piece of cloth.

  • Bystanding witness

    @Ikhwanii Extincticus – You’re absolutely correct; kudos for speaking out loud and clear. It’s hard to believe that this is the same country who had some one hundred years ago a Qassem Amin who finally liberated the women. And now they’re going backwards on the fast track :-(!!!!!
    It goes in the same vein with those ‘modest women’ who wear all clothes at least one size too small (and look like a stuffed ‘mumbar’!), push-up bra’s … top it with lots of make-up … and the hijab. One day I hope to gather enough courage to stop one and ask her as to WHY she’s wearing the hijab. Hypocrisy at its best! Everyone should be able to wear what he/she wants. So stop making a fuss, stop forcing women to wear the hijab (which is a discrimination too), stop creating artificial problems like muhagabat going to a bar (!!!), etc. and instead concentrate on the essence of life! It’s NOT the outside appearance that really matters – it’s the inside!!

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  • Yikes

    First of all, I hope this is true and that action will be taken immediately. However, what’s much worse is companies that discriminate against women wearing hijab, especially when there is no dress code that requires her to not wear hijab. This happens at many well-respected advertising agencies, universities and other establishments.

  • Ikhwanii Extincticus

    The question on everyones lips is WHY would these so called ‘modest Muslim’ women want to be going in bars and disco’s and places selling and consuming alcohol like hotel pools etc

    • EE

      Because it’s her choice and she can do whatever she wants 🙂

      • Ikhwanii Extincticus

        actually she can’t just do whatever she wants BUT she can wear her hijab and continue being a hypocrite.

        In Islam, a munāfiq is a hypocrite who outwardly practices Islam while inwardly concealing his disbelief (kufr).
        The Quran has hundreds of ayat (verses) discussing munāfiqūn, referring to them as more dangerous to Muslims than the worst non-Muslim enemies of Islam.

        • Yasmine

          Regardless of what a veiled woman is doing in that place, it is her right to go in there because she can do whatever she wants just like any man or non-veiled woman can do what they want. Just because a woman chose to dress modestly does not mean they are perfect islamically. We all know, no one is perfect. How does her going to a bar make her a hypocrite? Why is it that Muslim men and women who are not veiled can go there and not be considered hypocrites? Who cares what they or anybody believes. At the end of the day, we as humans do not have the right to judge one another. We can advise one another, but no one has the right to judge us on our intentions or what we believe. That’s for God and God alone. This is where tolerance and being ‘open-minded’ come in. Being open-minded is about accepting others, not being open to what others refuse to accept.

          • Ikhwanii Extincticus

            Muslims whether veiled or unveiled would be considered hypocrites if they lounge about in bars and nightclubs where alcohol is openly on display and being bought and drank by Muslims. Muslims can’t have it both ways 😉

          • Samar Ibrahim

            Exactly, so you should demand that all Muslims not to enter bars not only hijabi women and you should call any Muslim even working in the bar or owning it a hypocrite not only the hijabi woman and since non of these people are banned from entering a bar or called hypocrites, the hijabi woman should not be banned. If she is banned alone, then this is real hypocrisy. Besides, there are restaurants (NOT BARS) that ban hijabi women from entering because they think that hijabi women are not chic and they look sloppy which is a very rude and impolite attitude.

  • hala

    I totally agree with the previous comment. Tellawy is such a hypocrite.

    • Ikhwanii Extincticus

      and so are the hijabi’s who frequent bars

      • Samar Ibrahim

        And so are the Muslims who are calling the hijabi hypocrites and not calling other Muslims the same!

  • crescent5

    Finally the government is doing something. This practice has been around since Mubarak, when the secular elite liked to parade around Egypt like some twisted reincarnation of the Pharaonic class and saw the entry of veiled women into their spaces as either a. the precursor to the middle class hordes moving in or b. a threat to their “high class” identity. I am so pleased to see that Sisi (whose wife wears a veil- can you imagine- the country’s first lady not being permitted to enter these restaurants and resorts!!!) is ending this discrimination.

  • Amr

    Mervat Tellawy head of a council of women is discriminating against women. Wow. And clearly she does not know the difference between a dress code and religious discrimination.

    • Heba Farouk Mahfouz

      Spot on, bro!

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