Algeria’s Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has ordered a ban on civil servants wearing niqabs (full-face veils) at work, citing reasons of identification.
Mr Ouyahia sent an order to regional government chiefs to implement the directive.
“[Civil servants] must… comply with the rules and requirements of security and communication within their department, which require their systematic and permanent physical identification, particularly in their place of work,” he is quoted as saying by privately-owned Tout Sur Algerie (TSA) website.
Although most Algerian women don’t wear the face veil, the decision is likely to be criticised by the conservative Salafist minority, who follow a strict version of Islam.
The North African country has been split between moderate and more radical forms of Islam since it was plunged into years of civil war in 1992, when a military-backed government cancelled elections that an Islamist party was poised to win.