Egypt Independent

From water bottles to niqab: Egyptian universities’ weirdest bans



Public universities across Egypt have in recent years instituted a number of arguably ridiculous bans on what most people probably would consider very ordinary items to wear or bring to a university campus.

Reactions from the public have been mixed, with some expressing anger and annoyance while others even have applauded the measures. These bans are being taken so seriously by university administrations that fines have been issued to students who refuse to abide by them.

Egypt Independent has compiled some of the weirdest bans emerging so far.

No ripped jeans, tight clothes, or cursing

Manoufiya University stirred controversy in September when the dean of one of the faculties said that a ban going to be imposed on “ripped or faded pants from campus.”

Alexandria University followed suit, with the dean of the Faculty of Agriculture issuing a statement saying that not only would ripped jeans be banned, but also tight clothes and galabiyas. “This type of attire is inappropriate and goes against our values, traditions and religion,” he said.  “I immediately ordered our head security officer to meet with the girls and inform them that their attire isn’t allowed on campus. I also issued directives allowing security guards to ban any student wearing such clothes from entering campus,” the dean ranted on.

The Department of Commerce at the same university apparently thought this was a great idea and put in place the same ban, but added that anyone entering the campus would be fined with LE 50. While the department was at it, it also prohibited curse words to be used on its Facebook page.

No bermuda shorts, no slippers

Public universities have also prohibited students from entering their campuses wearing so-called bermuda shorts. The rationale behind the decision was that wearing this kind of attire contributes to sexual harassment. While in the banning mood, university deans took the opportunity to throw in a ban on slippers, arguing that they are not appropriate for higher educational institutions.

No niqab

The niqab, or full body veil, was banned in Egyptian public universities in 2014. At the time, it stirred a lot of controversy and public debate. President of Cairo University Gaber Nassar justified the ban by claiming that students have complained that it apparently makes communication difficult, especially with niqab-wearing lecturers.

No water bottled, no spray cans

Perhaps the weirdest item of them all to be banned at universities in Egypt are water bottles. In 2015, Al-Azhar University, which is also the Sunni Muslim world’s most prominent religious institution, prohibited water bottles as well as spray cans for being brought into campus, arguing that they can be used in student protests.