File photo: Egyptian school students walk outside a school in Giza on the outskirts of Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
Iman Ahmed Kilani, a grade-school science teacher in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor was referred to investigation on Tuesday for cutting the hair of two sixth-grade girls for not wearing the veil.
Deputy Minister of Education, Zakaria Abdel-Fatah, told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website that the teacher had been transferred to the administrative prosecution after the girls' parents lodged a formal complaint against her.
Last Wednesday, Kilani – who wears the full Islamic face veil (niqab) – punished Ola El-Qassem and Mona El-Rawi for coming to class without wearing a head scarf as per her instructions by cutting both girls' hair.
She went on to threaten other girls in the class with the same punishment if they failed to wear the veil.
Kilani told Al-Ahram's Arabic news portal that she did not know that cutting less than 2 centimeters of hair would be considered a crime.
She explained that a student brought out scissors and challenged her to carry out her threat to cut the unveiled girls' hair. Her authority was being undermined and she protected it, she said.
The accused teacher also claimed that El-Rawi's father told her that he reprimanded his daughter for her behaviour and punished her. This is when she thought the problem ended, especially since she claims to have reconciled with the other student's parents.
Kilani said she did not expect much commotion to follow her actions, blaming the media for exaggerating the problem.
The science teacher added she is on friendly relations with her students.
Kilani said she does not belong to any political and religious group, adding that she has worn the full face veil for 5 years.
According to Abdel-Fatah, two months have been deducted from the teacher's salary on orders of the Ministry of Education.
In an interview with the private Sada El-Balad television channel, Luxor Governor, Ezzat Saad, condemned the teacher's act, vowing that the governorate would exert all necessary effort to preserve personal freedoms.