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Friday, March 30, 2007

Egyptian Christians Defend Headscarf

CAIRO — Showing solidarity with the Muslim principal, Christian students in an Egyptian secondary girls school and their parents rushed to defend wearing headscarves in class, insisting they were not coerced but were simply following in the footsteps of Virgin Mary.
"All Christian girls in the school wear headscarves out of their own volition," Merriam Nabil, a student at Al-Ayyat Technical School in the Giza governorate, told IslamOnline.net.
"We have decided to stand by our principal to demonstrate to all that he did not force us to don the headscarf."

A state-owned magazine had reported that the entire 2,700 students of the school, including 55 Christians, cover their hair with white headscarves.
It claimed that the school's principal, Magdy Fikri, coerced the Christian girls into putting on the Muslim head cover.

Accordingly, he was rebuked by the Ministry of Education and transferred along with two teachers from the school.

"We received complaints from some parents and girl students, who said that the principal forced Muslim and Christian girls to wear hijab," Ministry of Education Undersecretary Hussein el-Sheikh told IOL.

Fikri refuses to swallow claims that complaints had been lodged with the ministry from his students.

"I can never believe that a student or one of my Christian colleagues is behind these alleged complaints," he said.

"I have known them for years, they can never behave like this. We, Muslims and Christians, are one and do not bear grudges for one another."

Minister of Education Yousri el-Gamal only backed down after the Christian girls joined hands with their Muslim colleagues in defending their principal.

"The minister was moved by the Muslim-Christian solidarity in the case," el-Sheikh said.
Virgin Mary

Merriam Nabil has been wearing a headscarf since the preliminary grade.
"We wear the headscarves inside and outside the school just like our mothers," said the Christian student.

"I having been covering my hair since the preliminary school. We don't feel offended if we are likened to our Muslim peers."
The disciplinary action against Fikri drew fire from parents of the Christian students and Christian school teachers alike.

The school's deputy principal, Magdy Rasmi, a Christian, defended his colleague.
"Fikri is one of the best people I know," he told IOL. "Injustice has been done to him and we must stand by him."

Lotfi Adly, the father of a Christian student, agreed.
"If our daughters had been really forced to wear hijab, we would have never kept our mouths shut," he told IOL.

"But we are convinced that there is nothing wrong with the headscarf."
The Christian father said the overwhelming majority of Egyptians are devout and conservative.

"Do you think I would be happy seeing my kid's hair uncovered?"
Said Ghobriyal, another father, insisted that the headscarf is all about chastity.
"It really unnerves me to see women on the streets with uncovered hair."
The mother of Fayza Awad, a Christian student, asserted that herself and her daughter were modeling themselves after Virgin Marry.

"I wear a headscarf because Virgin Mary covered her hair. This is all about respect and there is no compulsion."

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