In the past couple of months, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court has issued two rulings concerning the country’s universities.
In response, the president of the National Council for Human Rights, Boutros Boutros-Ghali asked Hani Hilal, minister of higher education, to attend a meeting with the council.
Emerging from the two hour long meeting, Hilal told reporters that the “ministry and Cairo University respect court rulings in relation to campus security and niqab wearing students.”
On October 23, 2010, the Supreme Administrative Court backed a previous ruling passed in 2008 by a lower administrative court ending the presence of interior ministry security personnel in Cairo University. The court said that the presence of ministry security personnel on campus damages the independence of universities. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by members of the 9 March Movement for the Independence of Universities.
“The Supreme Administrative Court did not cancel the presence of security altogether but said they should not be affiliated to the ministry of interior,” said Hilal.
“The ministry and the university are establishing a university security unit which will be affiliated to the university’s administration. The matter takes time,” Hilal added, assuring that “the ministry respects court rulings”.
As for niqab wearing students, the minister said that the court's rulings stipulated that students should show their faces when they are asked to, so “they are asked to show their faces during examinations and if they don’t they will not be allowed to take their exams.”
Students wearing the niqab had filed lawsuits with the Supreme Administrative Court after being barred from entering exams earlier this month.
The court sought the opinions of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the Mufti before ruling that students should be admitted as long as they agree to confirm their identity with a female university official.