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Bangladesh Government institute makes Islamic dress code mandatory

Easterntimes, Special Correspondent, Dhaka, 29 October: An institute under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has made it mandatory for its employees to follow the Islamic dress code and to keep their mobile phones switched off or silent during office hours.

The Institute of Public Health (IPH), which works under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), issued the notice, signed by IPH Director Dr Muhammad Abdur Rahim, on Wednesday.

The notice asked male officials and staffers to wear trousers over their ankles, and female employees to wear clothes covering their ankles and to maintain hijab.

When asked why he authorized such a direction, Abdur Rahim told Our Correspondent that he did so out of his religious commitment.

“I made the order for my office. This is a Muslim country. If such a dress code is maintained in my office and country, it will make me happy,” he said. However, the IPH director admitted that the government did not direct him to issue such notices.

The government did not direct me to take this action. I issued the order for my colleagues so that they follow (religious) rules and regulations. I want them to be disciplined and peaceful,” he argued.

He defended his decision saying: “I’m a government officer. Hence, I’ll run my office in my own style.”

The IPH director made all his remarks on a phone call with Our Correspondent.

A former IPH director, preferring anonymity, said the decision to keep cell phones turned off or silent at work is not logical.

“Using phones is like inhaling oxygen these days. We need to use phones in office so that our communication gets easier,” he said, without making any comments on the religious obligations mentioned in the notice.

Meanwhile, the notice has been making rounds on the internet, garnering criticism from denizens.

Dhaka University Professor Dr Gitiara Nasreen posted the notice on her Facebook account, where many reacted strongly.

One Utsab Mosaddek wrote: “This order is contradictory to the constitution. The person who issued the order must face the music.”

Facebook user Shuprova Tasneem reacted by writing: “This is really difficult to digest”.

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