Headscarf row re-opens old wounds for Algerians

April 13, 2010
algeria women

Algerian women walk past an election poster of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Batna, 500 km (311 miles) east of Algiers, March 19, 2009/Louafi Larbi

A decision by Algeria’s government that women should pose for passport photographs without their Islamic headscarves has re-opened wounds still raw after nearly two decades of Islamist militant violence.

Algeria’s secular-minded government says that as part of the introduction of new biometric passports, all women should be photographed without the veil, a requirement that has angered the country’s influential religious traditionalists.

“We are in an Islamic country and the state should not be issuing laws that contradict our religion,” said Abderahmane Chibane, the head of the Muslim Ulema Association which groups leading Islamic scholars.

Algeria is emerging from a conflict that broke out after the military backed government in 1992 scrapped legislative elections that a radical Islamist party was poised to win.  However, analysts say the row over passports risks damaging a truce between the government and the Islamists that has helped reduce the violence and usher in a period of relative stability.

Read the full story here.

Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/