Cii Radio | 23 Jumadal Ukhra 1436/13 April 2015

A rise in the number of complaints from sisters asked to remove their hijab, when applying for different forms of identifications documents at home affairs, has spurred Ulama into action. The Jamiat Ulama KwaZulu-Natal, according to its administrator Ml Abdullah Khan, has been successful in its quest to address the hijab matter once and for all.

“In recent months we have noticed an increase in complaints pertaining to demands from officials of the department of home of affairs (to remove hijabs)… There’s a process of applying for a new smart card, which is now in the process of replacing the old identity documents and in the next few years, I think it would be mandatory that every person would have a smart card. The application of this smart requires that a photograph be taken by the applicants and that photograph is taken in-house or in the office where you’re making the application,” Khan told Cii listeners.

“The difficulty that our ladies are facing, especially our ladies, is that some of them are in hijab – meaning full burqa where they cover their faces, et cetera, and there are those who don’t cover their faces but (cover only heads). In many instances we’ve received reports of officials, in the presence of others, would ask them to either remove the veil or remove the headgear as well,” added the man of cloth during an interview with Sabahul Khair.

After receiving the complaints, the group approached the department to establish what the correct regulations and procedures are in relation to hijab, Moulana said. The group’s investigation turned out to indicate that many of the home affairs officials are not exactly awake to the rules and regulations. This is the reason some officials demand that ladies take off even their headgear or scarf.

Going a step further, he said, the group has taken a step to enlighten members of the community by posting the rules and regulations, on hijab, on its website. “If you download that, then you would be able to prove to the official who is handling processing your application that it is part and parcel of laws and rules that for religious purposes you are allowed the head covering,” explained the Jamiat representative. “Yes, they can ask you to remove your veil but head covering for religious reasons is definitely allowed.”

He also told Cii listeners that ladies, especially those in burqa, are entitled to ask for only female officials to take their pictures and also in private – where no other people (including fellow applicants or other officials) could see her face. This, he said, would be in keeping with the law, on one hand, and ensuring that the lady’s privacy is not violated. Moulana urged any applicant who felt their unsatisfied with the officials’ behaviour to take their name and refer the matter with the Jamiat in writing. It was also suggested that home affairs officials wear name tags, a years’ old and effective identification practice.