Bearded policemen demand support from President Morsi

Randa Ali , Friday 1 Mar 2013

Egyptian interior ministry refuses to allow bearded policemen to return to work despite a court decision ordering it to do so

Suspended bearded policemen during protest in downtown Cairo, 1 March (Photo: Randa Ali)

Dozens of protesters gathered at Abdeen palace in Cairo on Friday in support of bearded policemen who remain suspended from work despite a court verdict in their favour.

On 20 February, Egypt's administrative court said the policemen, who were suspended for growing beards, could return to work.

Despite the court ruling they remain suspended.

"We went to court after we failed to convince the interior ministry that having a beard is line with the teachings of the Prophet," said Mohamed, a lower-ranking officer who has been suspended from work since March 2011.

During negotiations with interior minister aides, Mohamed and his suspended colleagues were told that the interior ministry did not have the authority to implement the court ruling and it would require instructions from the president.

"We have been protesting since last Tuesday in front of the interior ministry, and we will continue until the president issues a decision on our case," added Mohamed.

According to Abdel-Aziz El-Sadek, one of the protesting officers, around 80 lower-ranking officers and policemen have been suspended for growing beards since Egypt's revolution in 2011.

El-Sadek said several Salafist groups had voiced support for them, including the Salafist Call and the Nour Party. No expressions of support had been received from the Muslim Brotherhood or the Freedom and Justice Party, he added.

Mohamed Abdel-Mohsen, a lower-ranking officer, said nothing in the constitution, the laws of Egypt or Islamic Sharia says growing a beard is wrong.

Only verbal instruction forbid beards in the police, added Abdel-Mohsen.

In January, a report was issued by the administrative court's state commissioners authority stating that beards do not conflict with the 1971 police law and that growing beards would not negatively affect the public.

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