The Syrian minister of higher education has prohibited the entrance of veiled female students into universities and colleges throughout the country, news agencies reported Sunday.
Dr. Ghitath Barakat explained that the donning of face veils, which cover everything but the woman's eyes, "opposes the morals and values of the academy".
Barakat's decree followed similar ones approved by a number of European parliaments, including Belgium and France.
Reports say the minister's decision was prompted by complaints made by a number of parents, who said the women wearing the burqas – traditional dresses that cover the entire body – should be satisfied by simply adopting modest dress.
"The demands of these families caused the heads of private universities to discuss the subject during a meeting at the Ministry of Higher Education, together with the minister last Wednesday," a ministry official was quoted as saying.
"The ministry accepted their demands and the minister announced he would prohibit this phenomenon," he said. "Minister Barakat ordered all Syrian universities to forbid the entrance of veiled women."
The official added, "Our students are our children and we will not abandon them to extreme ideas and practices."
In April, Belgium became the first European nation to ban the burqa. Two months later the French parliament followed suit, and recently Spain has announced it would consider banning face veils as well. In addition, a UK-based poll found that two-thirds of Brits would also support such a move in Great Britain.