Gambia bans uncovered hair at work place

The Gambian government has banned its female employees from leaving their hair uncovered at work.

This ban is contained in a memo written by the Gambian government.

Women should use a “head tie and neatly wrap their hair”, the memo said, without giving reasons for the ban.

Last month, Gambia’s President, Yahya Jammeh declared the Muslim-majority country an Islamic republic.

He added that no dress code would be imposed and citizens of other faiths would be allowed to practice freely.

“All are strictly advised to adhere to this new directive” it added.

About 90% of Gambians are Muslim.

When Mr. Jammeh declared The Gambia an Islamic republic, he said the move was in line with the West African nation’s “religious identity and values”.

His critics said the declaration was intended to deflect attention from the poor state of the economy, including the rise in the price of basic commodities.

Many Muslim scholars believe that Islam requires Muslim women to cover their hair in public.

However, the requirement is not strictly adhered to in The Gambia.

First Lady Zineb Yahya Jammeh has previously appeared in public with her hair uncovered.

Also in November, the Gambian leader banned female circumcision, saying it was not required in Islam.

Mr. Jammeh, who seized power in 1994 as a 29-year-old army lieutenant, is accused by human rights activists of presiding over a brutal regime which is intolerant of dissent.

The Gambia is popular with Western tourists because of its beaches.

Mr Jammeh withdrew the former British colony from the Commonwealth in 2013, describing the organisation as neo-colonial.

The European Union temporarily withheld financial aid to the Gambia in 2014 over its poor human rights record.


BBC/Aisha JM