Facebook pages call for allowing police, army officers to grow beards

Facebook users who say they are police officers have created a Facebook page titled “I am a bearded policeman,” saying they are oppressed by the Interior Ministry, which the page says prevents them from applying the “prophetic tradition” of growing their beards.

Nader Bakar, spokesperson of the Salafi-oriented Nour Party, told satellite channel CBC on Saturday it’s unacceptable that some are demanding that bearded policemen be reprimanded.

Bakar said the Prophet Mohamed and his companions led the best armies of the world while being bearded.

He added that these policemen all have a clean record and are following the model of the Prophet, and that he would support them legally if they choose to file a lawsuit to defend their right to keep their beards.

Bakar said any attempt by the police to fire them is against Sharia and human rights.

“I am a bearded policeman” says its creators are 18 policemen forced by the Interior Ministry to shave every day, which they say is a “violation of the teachings of religion.”

Some Islamic scholars say a beard is obligatory for male Muslims, along with shaving one’s mustache. Other scholars have gone further, saying the beard must be long.

Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the current grand mufti of Egypt, has said in a fatwa that “shaving the beard is one of the issues on which there is scholarly debate. While the majority of scholars maintain that the shaving of beards is unlawful, the Shafi’is maintain that it is disliked.”

But a more rigid fatwa was issued by the late prominent Saudi scholar Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen: “Shaving the beard is forbidden, because it is disobedience to the messenger of God … and because it is a departure from the guidance of the messengers to the guidance of the Zoroastrians and the polytheists.”

In Egypt, traditionally men have tended not to grow long beards, but secular commentators say Egyptians were affected by a trend of religious conservatism dominant in the Gulf area.

Traditional images of police show them with mustaches, not beards. The latter is perceived to indicate a religious man, and longer beards are generally seen to indicate that a man is Salafi.

“I am a bearded policeman” triggered the creation of other Facebook pages, some of which extend the call to allow conscripts doing military service to grow their beards.

Some Facebook pages  — including one belonging to prominent Salafi preacher Mohamed Hassan and one titled “Give me freedom, let me grow my beard while cherishing my job” — called for giving security officers the freedom to grow their beards.

A page titled “The coalition of bearded army and police officers” said police and army regulations do not prevent them from growing beards, and that beards would not hamper them from carrying out their jobs competently.

The page also said some bearded police officers were referred to an Interior Ministry disciplinary council because they called for beards.

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