Court reverses niqab ban

The education department of the Administrative Court instructed the higher education minister, Hany Hilal, and the president of Ain Shams University, Ahmed Zaky Bady, to allow two veiled students to enter a student dormitory belonging to the university, reversing a previous decision which had denied them entry.

The verdict is the first of its kind following a series of lawsuits filed in the wake of the niqab controversy.

"Wearing the niqab is a personal freedom as long as it does not breach public order, the law or the Constitution," the court said in its verdict.

The court reasoned that there was no proof of the two students having violated the internal security rules of the university dormitory through wearing the niqab, and that both had complied with conditions of residence at the dormitory set by the university.

The verdict was issued under the supervision of Anwar Khalil, vice-president of the State Council and president of the court.

Meanwhile, about 100 niqab-wearing students protested yesterday at Cairo University against a decision that prevents them attending exams wearing the niqab. They stood in the way of Hilal, who was leaving the university, and pressed him to cancel the decision or agree a compromise, but the minister reacted angrily and described their actions as "demagogic." He declined to engage into a discussion.

"We did not deny you entry to the university we are standing in now, and God only knows whether you are girls or not," he told the students. Hilal said that wearing the niqab is a personal freedom, but he argued that it is the university’s right to verify students’ identity and that rules should be obeyed.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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