Tunisian minister blasts university’s handling of veil row

AFP | Mar 08,2012 | 22:38 JORDAN TIMES

TUNIS — A Tunisian minister on Thursday condemned a university’s ban on full-face veils that sparked a weeks-long sit-in by conservative Muslims, saying they had completely mishandled the issue.

The three-month conflict at Manouba University, about 25 kilometres from Tunis, should never have happened, Moncef Ben Salem, minister for higher education, told reporters at the presidential palace.

“The Manouba affair is a false problem,” he said.

“We have 96 girls in all of Tunisia who wear the niqab [full-face veil] in the 193 university institutions, and there has been a problem nowhere except at Manouba,” he added.

The head of the faculty there “did not do what needed to be done to resolve the situation peacefully and he has ulterior political motives,” the minister added.

Salem was speaking a day after Islamic activists took down the Tunisian flag from the roof of a university building and replaced it with the black flag of the ultra-conservative Salafist Muslims.

The protest came after six students were disciplined for wearing the niqab.


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