PLO condemns Gaza university female ‘dress code’ decision

The Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education has criticised and attempted to abolish a decision taken by a public Gaza university, under which female students have to come in full Islamic wear when on the campus.

Ali Al Jarbawi, Palestinian Minister of Higher Education, has sent an official letter to the acting head of the Al Aqsa University, informing him that only the ministry has the authority to impose any necessary regulations, and ordered the withdrawal of the dress code law, Gulf News reports.

Adding that the ministry had never been consulted before the decision was taken, Jarbawi said in his letter that no specific definition for a 'decent dress code' has been prescribed in the agenda of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The minister underlined the importance of personal freedom, ensured under the Palestinian National Authority's (PNA) Basic Law, and said that women cannot be forced to put on uniforms.

Echoing the minister's views, the Cultural and Information Department of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) labeled the decision of the university as being led by Taliban and said that the decision violates human rights and Islamic teachings.

The PLO said in a statement that the decision is also against the university's mission, which has been founded to develop the society, and condemned the verbal and physical violence reportedly faced by female students for not adhering to the dress code.

The board of Al Aqsa University had approved the decision which forces female students to adhere to a 'decent dress code', including the hijab while on campus, which was to be effective starting the next academic semester. The university elaborated on the directive, saying that women's clothes should cover "the entire body in an Islamic way", adding that the decision was binding.

The university administration rejected accusations that the decision is a violation of personal freedom.

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