The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said on Thursday that the Ministry of Education needs to respond to cases of discrimination against female students who do not wear the veil. The statement was made in response to a recent incident in which a 12 year-old female student, Heba Mohamed, was prohibited from participating in a memorial photograph with her karate class, because she did not wear the veil.
The ANHRI denounced the decision made by the director of Mohamed’s primary school in Alexandria and added that the new constitution, “which is full of shortcomings, had clearly stipulated the prohibition of all forms of discrimination against any human being”. This incident, the ANHRI said, represented a clear example of discrimination against a female student because of her appearance.
President Mohamed Morsi denounced the incident while addressing a delegation for the National Council for Women (NCW) on Thursday.
Last October, a teacher in Luxor cut the hair of two third-grade students as punishment for not wearing the veil. The teacher was given a six-month suspended sentence by the courts last November.
The issue of wearing the veil, considered by some as evidence of religious commitment, “is a phenomenon which reflects the general climate of using certain [religious] aspects against some classes in society”, the ANHRI said.
“Such incidents are a violation of the right of the student,” it continued.
The statement said that the incident was “also a serious indicator of the increased atmosphere in educational institutions that encourages discrimination on the basis of the narrow understanding of religious commitment”, threatening freedom of religious doctrine and expression in general.
As the competent authority in this case, the ANHRI said, the Ministry of Education should conduct an investigation into the matter and take all the required procedures to prevent the repeat of such incidents.
The ANHRI also demanded the legislative authority take decisive steps to interpret the constitutional provision on discrimination and punish all forms of discriminatory practices toward any citizen on the grounds of gender, race, colour, sect and personal notions regarding clothes and conduct.