A pair of Indonesian Islamic universities is pushing female students to ditch niqab face veils - with one threatening expulsion for non-compliance - as concerns grow over rising fundamentalism in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.
Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University said it issued the edict this week to more than three dozen niqab-wearing students, who will be booted from school if they refuse.
Although niqabs are common in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states, they’re rare in secular Indonesia, where around 90 percent of its 260 million people have traditionally followed a moderate form of Islam.
For many Indonesians, the niqab - a full veil with a small slit for the eyes - is an unwelcome Arab export and some associate it with radical Islam, which the country has wrestled with for years.
‘We are a state university... we’ve been told to spread moderate Islam,’ the school’s chancellor Yudian Wahyudi told a press briefing this week.
The school, based in Indonesia’s cultural capital Yogyakarta, has some 10,000 students.
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