Saudi women must uncover faces for security checks, council says

Dubai - Saudi Arabian authorities have rejected a conservative proposal to allow women to keep their faces covered during security checks, local media reported on Tuesday.

A draft law would have allowed women to continue wearing veils during the checks, and would have required their identity cards to be based on fingerprints instead of photographs, the Saudi Gazette said.

The Shura Council, a consultative body appointed by the king, rejected the plan on Sunday, although it agreed that female security staff should carry out checks on women, the newspaper reported. It did not say who had proposed the law.

Under Wahhabism, the branch of Sunni Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, men and women are largely segregated in public areas. Women need a male guardian's permission to work, travel or open a bank account.

Under King Abdullah, the government has pressed for women to have better education and job opportunities, and will allow them to vote in future municipal elections. But conservative forces in the kingdom have continued to push back against reforms.