Due to Niqab Debate, Classes Still Suspended at Tunisian University

News article, posted 03.16.2012, from Tunisia, in:
Due to Niqab Debate, Classes Still Suspended at Tunisian University (Photo: Tunisia Live)

Summary: Beginning February 29th, classes remain suspended at the University of La Manouba until further notice.  According to Tunisia Live, professors have stated that they will remain on strike until a resolution is reached.

This latest strike was sparked when, on February 28th, a university professor refused entry to a female student wearing the niqab. Though the professor's refusal was in accordance with the decision of the university's Scientific Research Council, the student returned with a group of fellow "Salafi" students who began to protest outside the professor's classroom. When the professor attempted to change classrooms, a confrontation ensued.

According to Tunisia Live, Amel Jaidi, head of the English department, complained that the Faculté des Lettres at the University of La Manouba is no longer safe for teachers. "Salafists are not letting us do our job," she stated. "Whenever us professors try to apply the university’s law, we get physically attacked. This is not acceptable."

Jaidi added that professors and the university dean contacted the general prosecutor in the hopes of reaching a resolution. "The Ministry [of Higher Education] is not listening to us," she said.

According to Tunisia Live, fellow professor Feiza Derbel also confirmed that “the government is not taking the issue seriously.”

However, Hatem Kattou, press attaché of the Ministry of Higher Education,  expressed solidarity with the professors and condemned the aggression against professors.  He also stated that it would be unacceptable to prevent students from receiving credit for their academic year.