Source: The New York Times
JAKARTA, Indonesia — When the head of a prominent Islamic university in Indonesia banned the face-concealing niqab headdress on campus this month, calling it out of step with the country’s true culture, it seemed a significant pushback against the conservative drift of Islam.
Perhaps more significant is that the ban lasted just a week.
A string of protests broke out, including by former members of an Islamic group banned by the Indonesian government last year for spreading a Saudi-influenced brand of extremism. And at the start of last week, the rector’s office at the university, the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta, confirmed that the niqab ban had been rescinded. No reason was given.
The issue has again pitted conservative Islamic groups here, which insist it is a woman’s right to publicly wear the niqab — a full head covering with only eye slits, usually accompanied by a shoulder-to-toe gown — against advocates who are concerned that more extreme strains of Islam have become ascendant.