Cairo, 18 Muharram 1437/31 October 2015 (MINA) –   A proposal to ban the Islamic face veil or niqab in Malta has drawn the ire of the Muslim leaders, who warned that ban would stigmatize their community in the Southern European Island.

Millions of Muslim women wear the face-veil “and they will all feel offended, treated unjustly, besieged and harassed by such an imposing law,” Imam Mohammed Elsadi told Malta Today on Thursday, October 29.

The prohibition of the face-veil would be a violation of individual freedom and human rights with no true benefit to society.

Just as the woman in a secular society is left to decide for herself what to wear and what to uncover, so the Muslim woman has the right to cover and uncover what she decides is appropriate for herself.”

Imam Elsadi was warning against the proposed niqab ban, saying that it would impinge on the freedom of Muslim women.

Though only three Maltese women wear niqab, the imam stressed that the ban would threaten the integration and harmony in the society.

On the other hand, supporters of the ban argued that it will not impinge on the rights to religious expression.

The burqa and the niqab are not garments that one would associate with this community, so a clearer ban on face coverings should carry no impact on the vast majority of Muslims in any way, civil liberties minister Helena Dalli said, earlier this month.

Defending the Muslim face veil, Elsadi said in a statement, “Their Islamic dress did not cause any threat to the public security.

Whenever they were required to identify themselves by security personnel, they readily complied, removing the face veil, and consider this compliance as both a religious and social duty.

“The face veil, covering part or all of the woman’s face is accepted in most European countries and all over the world, and it is not considered a threat to public safety.

Even certain countries which suffered the curse of terrorist attacks did not ban the face veil, clearly because it has nothing to do with these criminal acts.”

The Criminal Code of the European Island country already forbids people from “wearing masks or disguising themselves” in public spaces “In 2013, the Attorney General issued a police circular stating that, “there is no provision within Maltese law that prohibits the wearing of the burqa”.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

As for the face veil, the majority of Muslim scholars believe that a woman is not obliged to cover her face or hands.

Scholars, however, believe that it is up to women to decide whether to take on the veil.

There is no official figure on the number of Muslim in Malta, an island country with a 400,000 strong population.

According to Wikipedia, the present day Muslim community in Malta is a minority of around 6,000.

There is one mosque, founded in 1978 by the World Islamic Call Society. (T/Imt/R03)

Mi’raj Islamci News Agency (MINA)