Last week, Tunisia took a decision to ban the niqab in state-run buildings, citing security reasons following the terror attacks last month.
The country's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed signed a government circular "banning access to public administrations and institutions to anyone with their face covered... for security reasons," his office said, according to the BBC. The ban on the face-veil comes following the double suicide bombing that shook Tunis on June 27. The attacks left two people dead and several others injured. Witnesses at the time claimed that one of the bombers was donning niqab, however, Tunisia's Ministry of the Interior has denied this.
Many people have criticized the country's decision, calling it a restriction on people's freedom. Rights group Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights urged the government to ensure the ban was just temporary.
The country's tourism sector has been affected by "terrorist attacks"
The 2002 bombing of the Djerba synagogue, which left 21 people dead, affected the country's tourism sector for years. This worsened after the 2015 attacks - one at the National Bardo Museum and another at the seaside resort of Sousse - which left 60 people dead. The latter affected the country's tourism sector big time; governments began issuing warnings to tourists and travel agencies began disposing of their packages to Tunisia.
However, the tourism sector has bounced back since, according to AP, with over 6 million tourists visiting the country during the first nine months of 2018. In 2017, a report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed Tunisia to be one of the world's fastest growing tourist destinations in 2017. The country was listed No. 5 in the ranking. UNWTO reported that tourists in the country increased by 32.5 percent that year.
Unfortunately, just as the tourism sector was flourishing, the country was struck with a number of terrorist attacks earlier this year. The recent ban, which has been dubbed a security measure, has garnered polarizing opinions online.
"Everyone is free to wear whatever they want"
"The world of hypocrisy"
"Banning the niqab should be the least of their priorities"
"Everyone is mad at the niqab ban except actual Tunisians living in Tunisia"
Tunisia's long-time ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali banned the niqab and hijab in governmental buildings during his time. Following his ousting in 2011, the face-veils and headscarf made a comeback.
In recent years, a number of countries have banned the niqab including - but not limited to - France and Belgium. Tunisia is not the first Muslim-majority country to put such a ban in place.
Last year, Algerian authorities banned women working in the public sector from wearing niqabs. Ahmed Ouyahia, the country's prime minister, said the decision came due to the realization that identification in the workplace is extremely important. Algeria's decision was not welcomed by other MPs in the country at the time. Islamist MP Masoud Amrawi said the new law is "a declared war on Islam," according to Aawsat.