A primary school teacher in Egypt, who wears niqab, or full face veil, has been sanctioned after cutting the hair of two 9-year-old girls as punishment for not obeying orders to wear Muslim headscarves to class, press reports said on Thursday.
The incident has fuelled fears that the country’s Islamist government is emboldening extremist movements and encroaching on personal rights in the name of religion.
Berbesh Khairi El-Rawi decried the teacher’s action and filed a formal complaint against her, and she was sanctioned with the loss of a month’s salary.
A daily, Al-Masry al-Youm quoted the woman as saying: “I did not imagine that cutting off two centimetres (of hair) was a great crime.
“I was joking with them when one of the students got out some scissors and asked me to carry out my threat. I did it to maintain my authority.”
Most Muslim women in Egypt cover their hair, but the full face veil is associated with the ultra-conservative Salafist school of thought.
Ironically, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious centre of religious learning in the Sunni Muslim world, banned the face veil from its female-only classrooms and residences in 2009.