Jordanian Prime Minister Nasser Judeh, who is also the deputy head of the government’s Supreme Court, on Thursday issued a decree banning the full-face veil, the face covering worn by women in public in many Arab countries.
The move comes after several high-profile women in the Arab world have come out against the veil, saying it makes them feel isolated and makes them less comfortable in public.
“We want to show that we are not afraid of women, but we want to be comfortable with them,” she told reporters.
The decree applies to women wearing the headscarf or full-body veil, or those who wear it at home, with the exception of the male guardian of a minor child who must have permission from the guardian.
Judeh said the decree will be put into effect in stages and that he expects to issue it in stages.
Women’s groups also criticized the decree, calling it discriminatory.
“This decree is discriminatory, it’s racist and it’s wrong,” said Fathi Abou Elhanan, the director of the Egyptian-based Committee for Women’s Rights in Jordan, in a statement.
“I don’t know how a Muslim woman can be subjected to a decree like this, in which her husband is allowed to remove her headscarves.”
In Egypt, which was the first Arab country to ban the burka in 2016, Muslim women who wear the veil are also being denied entry to public buildings.
The Islamic Council of Egypt, an umbrella organization for the Muslim Brotherhood, issued a statement calling for women to wear the full veil.
“The Egyptian government should ban the full face veil,” said Mohamed Abou Zaid, director of research and advocacy at the group.
“It’s an absolute contradiction to Islam and to the Islamic teachings.”
In Morocco, women wearing headscarfs are also banned from entering a private mosque, a practice that is banned in other Arab countries, including Tunisia.
Egypt, which has a history of fighting the Islamic State group, banned the full burka and headscarb in 2016.
It has banned the veil since 2015.
In Saudi Arabia, women can wear the face coverings in public without being subject to arrest or punishment, but some men must wear the burqas or full veils.
In Qatar, where women are expected to cover their hair and face to protect their modesty, they are not allowed to wear full veil.