The ministry of education has sacked a Qura’n teacher because she refused to take off her niqab, or full-face veil, for work.
Thahmeena Mahmoud was sacked Monday from her job at the Alif Alif Atoll Education Center after the school repeatedly warned her to remove her niqab.
The ministry says the niqab is banned under a Civil Service Commission guideline that states civil servants “must be dressed in a manner that makes them identifiable easily”, according to local media.
In a separate development, also in Alif Alif atoll, the principal of the Mathiveri Island School sent Aishath Suzy, a grade one teacher, home on January 24 because she arrived at work dressed in the niqab.
The parents of the 18 grade one students on the island had to take their children home when no teacher arrived to take the class on Monday.
“There was no teacher. So we all took our kids home and went straight to the island council’s office afterwards,” a parent, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Maldives Independent.
The education ministry warned Suzy last week to follow the Civil Service dress regulations.
Mathiveri council President Ismail Athif said the council is currently mediating between the government, Civil Service Commission and the parents of the grade one students.
“She is the only trained teacher available to teach grade one. So we have requested the Civil Service Commission to allow her to teach in her niqab at least until a replacement teacher is found,” Athif said.
He added: “We all know who she is. She shows her face to the kids. She only wears [the niqab] inside the classroom because the room can be seen from the streets.”
Suzy is one of four women in Mathiveri who wears the niqab. The island’s population is approximately 450.
She told the Maldives Independent that she had worn the niqab to work throughout last year without any problem.
“I wore the niqab in November, 2015. For all of last year I wore it to work. No one asked me any questions,” Suzy said.
The teacher, who joined Mathiveri school in 2009 after completing her diploma, said she will attend work until she receives a written order not to go.
“I was told not come in anymore by the principal. But according to the rules something like that must be handed over in written form. I was not informed of it in writing,” she said.
The education ministry and Civil Service Commission were not available for comment.
Many top religious clerics have criticized the nib-ban, with Adam Shameem, a member of a government body to advise the president on religious affairs, saying it was “disrespectful to Allah and Islam”, according to Vnews.
Earlier this month, at the conclusion of a three-day religious conference, the Islamic ministry published an action plan for Islam in the Maldives.
According to the action plan: “wearing the niqab, growing the beard and keeping one’s lower garments at ankle-length are permitted in Islam and do not constitute as extremism.”