An Islamic university in Indonesia has faced a backlash after banning female students from wearing the full-face veil on campus.
The Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta, Java, said that the move had been made as a preventive measure against the spread of radical ideology among students, as the country leans increasingly towards conservatism.
There are currently 41 students who attend the university wearing burkas, it said, all of whom will be offered counselling sessions and asked to take off the veil if they wish to graduate.
Lathiefah Widuri Retyaningtyas, an Indonesian women’s rights activist, described the ban as a limitation on the freedom of women to wear what they want.
“Using full-face veils is a choice and we cannot interfere in their choice and their freedom,” she told Reuters.
But the university’s rector, Yudian Wahyudi, cited radicalisation as a key concern and suggested that burkas undermined learning.
Nearly one-fifth of high school and university students in Indonesia support the establishment of a caliphate over the current secular government, according to a recent survey by Alvara, a Jakarta-based marketing research group.
Female students will still be allowed to wear other conservative clothing such as headscarves that do not cover the face, Professor Wahyudi added.