Muslim women in Italy should not be forced to wear the veil, said the president of the Association of Muslim Intellectuals.
"Women should be free to choose if they want to wear the veil or not, considering that it is not a religious duty to do so," said Ahmad Vincenzo in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).
He was responding a statement made by Ezzedin el-Zir, the spokesperson of Italy's largest Muslim group, the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy (UCOII).
In an interview with the website KlausCondicio, el-Zir called on the Italian government not to prevent Muslim girls from wearing a veil to school, in the way that France has already done. There is a ban on wearing veils in French schools.
"In Italy, there is no prohibition to wearing the veil provided it does not cover the face and prevent the identification of the person," Vincenzo told AKI.
"As for schools, since it is not absolutely obligatory to wear the veil in Islam, the choice must be left to the women to decide if they want to wear one or not.
"We are worried that the exploitation of the veil could lead to the creation of an Islamist uniform for female Muslims," he said.
The same concerns were expressed by the deputy president of the Association of Intellectual Muslims, Karim Mezran.
"In many Muslim countries, the veil is not obligatory," he said adding that "it is important that it does not become a uniform, that is a form of reverse discrimination, where only those who wear the veil are considered Muslim."
Source: AKI (English)