Fascinating piece from Reuters, published in Asharq Alawsat. Even Muslim employers, in the region, prefer not to have women wearing niqab—full face veils—in positions where they need to interact with the public. This stance puts the employers squarely in the same position of several European states that prohibit the veil in certain public situations. It also raises the question about whether Islamic practice (actually cultural practice) is a matter of what someone says or what people actually do.
Definitely worth a glance.
DUBAI (Reuters) – Aysha Obeid is hoping that job prospects in a Muslim country will improve for her now that she’s decided to abandon the veil which usually covers her face.
The 22-year-old says several potential employers in the United Arab Emirates have turned her down because she wore the niqab, a face veil that usually leaves only the eyes uncovered.
Obeid, a national of the UAE, now only wears the head scarf more commonly worn by Muslim women around the world.
“No one takes women with niqab in the retail sector,” said Obeid who unsuccessfully applied for jobs at two retail outlets. She is now looking for back office administrative jobs where she believes she may have more chance of being employed.
Many devout women in the conservative Arabian Peninsula wear the niqab, but most Muslim clerics say women are only required to wear a head scarf.
While objections to the niqab have stirred up controversy outside the Muslim world, women who cover their face in the region also say they have trouble getting jobs, particularly those requiring them to interact with the public.
“Women in niqabs do not sit at the counter. They take administrative jobs,” said Abdullah Naser, a manager at a Dubai post office. “Clients need to know who they are talking to.”
Face veils have been a hot political issue in Europe and parts of the Middle East over the rights of wearers to attend schools in secular societies or become policewomen, teachers and take other jobs which interact with the public while wearing the niqab or similar face-covering veils.