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Egypt ex-actress polarises opinion after shedding niqab, hijab for cinema comeback Open in fullscreen

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Egypt ex-actress polarises opinion after shedding niqab, hijab for cinema comeback

The niqab is a hotly contentious issue in Egypt. [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 August, 2018

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A retired Egyptian actress has sparked intense debate after deciding to ditch the Islamic face-veil and return to acting after a decade-long repentance from the silver screen.
A retired Egyptian actress has sparked intense debate after deciding to ditch the Islamic face-veil and hijab and return to acting after a decade-long repentance from the silver screen.

Local media reported this week that Hala Shiha - once known as "the Aphrodite of the Egyptian cinema" - has taken off the niqab and is planning to attempt a comeback into the film industry.

Media outlets have published reportedly recent images of an unveiled Shiha and quoted her as saying she "longed to stand in front of the camera again and take part in works that championed human rights".

The actress abandoned her career in 2005 after embracing religion. The move was seen at the time as a sign of a conservative Islamic resurgence sweeping the region.

Shiha's latest move has polarised opinion in Egypt.

Fellow actors have welcomed her back and hailed her for courageously returning to the limelight.

On social media, many users have similarly praised the actress, however, some conservatives have condemned Shia and even gone as far as making death threats towards her.

The niqab is a hotly contentious issue in Egypt.

Several public and private universities have attempted to ban the face-covering garment from their campuses then backed down in the face of anger from students.

Last year, a lawmaker proposed a nation-wide ban on the niqab and claimed it was a "Jewish tradition".

The former grand mufti of Egypt was a vocal opponent of women covering their faces, arguing it was a sign of radicalism and a custom not rooted in Islamic scripture.

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