I didn’t know that.
In Egypt, a Member of Parliament has introduced a bill to ban the niqab in public places and in government institutions:
The Egyptian parliament is drafting a law banning women from wearing the niqab veil. The ban will apply to wearing the clothing in public places and government institutions, it has been reported.
MP Amna Nosseir, professor of comparative jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, who has backed the ban, said that wearing the veil is not a requirement of Islam and in fact has non-Islamic origins. She has argued that it is a Jewish tradition which appeared in the Arabian Peninsula prior to Islam and that a variety of Quran passages contradict its use. Instead, she has advocated that the Quran calls for modest clothing and covered hair, but does not require facial covering.
There are some Jewish sects which today use the niqab or something similar – a frumka, (a Haredi sect and some Sephardic women). There are references in the Old Testament which refer to women putting on a veil before meeting with strange men.
Certainly there seems to be strong evidence that the full-face veil was in use for at least a 1000 years before Islam was invented. Even in Islam, the Qur’an seems to call for modesty rather than specifying a particular mode of dress.