CAIRO (AFP) - Egypts Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious centre of religious learning in the Sunni Muslim world, will ban the face veil from female-only classrooms and residences, it said in a statement on Thursday. The Supreme Council of Al-Azhar has decided to ban students and teachers from wearing the niqab inside female-only classrooms, that are taught by women only, the statement said. The ban extends to womens dormitories and to schools affiliated with the university, it said. The face-veil, or the niqab, is worn by some devout Muslim women. Local press reported that Mohammed Tantawi, head of Al-Azhar, said last week that he intended to ban the practice in the university. The supreme councils statement added that Al-Azhar does not oppose the niqab, which it said only a minority of Muslim scholars consider an obligation, but it opposes imprinting it in the minds of girls. The decision came after female students who wear the niqab were banned from the womens dormitory of the state-run Cairo University. Most Muslim women in Egypt wear the hijab, which covers the hair, but the niqab is becoming more popular on the streets of Cairo. The government has shown concern over the trend. The religious endowments ministry issued booklets against the practice, saying the niqab is not Islamic, and the health ministry wants to ban it among doctors and nurses. In the Middle East, the niqab is associated with Salafism, an ultra-conservative school of thought practiced mostly in Saudi Arabia. Most Salafis shun politics, but the creed has influenced militants such as Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. Al-Azhar has long enjoyed a reputation as Sunni Islams eminent source of learning and edicts. Salafis, who actively promote their creed, sometimes funded by wealthy patrons in Saudi Arabia, are opposed to Al-Azhars theological teachings.