Egyptian professor claims that the veil is Jewish, not Muslim

Cairo, Egypt - Amna Naseer, female professor of religion and philosophy at Al Azhar University, claims that the burqa is not an Islamic precept - but started out as Jewish law that was taken by ignorant Muslims.

She was speaking at a seminar held by the network of Egyptian human rights groups about the rights of women in monotheistic religions.

While Judaism teaches the importance of modesty, nowhere does Jewish law demand that women cover their faces. Apparently, Naseer - obviously against the burqa, as Al Azhar University altogether is - feels that associating it with Judaism will get Egyptians to abandon the practice.

In fact, the Talmud indicates that the face veil was an Arab custom that predates Islam (BT Shabbat 65a) and Jewish women in Arabia adhered to that local custom. (Rashi comments there that Arab women customarily cover their heads and faces, except for the eyes, and the garment was called "re'ul" or "re'ula" in Arabic.)