Target: Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian President
Goal: Punish teacher who forcibly cut the hair of two non-Muslim girls simply because they were not wearing headscarves and take steps to protect religious minorities from abuse
Recently, two 12-year-old Egyptian students had their hair forcibly cut by their teacher because the two girls were not wearing Muslim headscarves in class. The incident took place in the southern province of Luxor. So far the governor of Luxor province has called the teacher’s actions “shameful” and the teacher has allegedly been transferred to another school. One of the girls’ fathers filed a formal complaint with the prosecutor’s office in Luxor and the investigation into the incident is ongoing, however, incidents like these have been on the rise in Egypt since the sweeping election victory last year by the Muslim Brotherhood. Help send a message to the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that he must ensure the rights and freedoms of all his citizens, especially those belonging to minority religions.
According to Berbesh Khairi El-Rawi, one of the girls’ fathers, the teacher–her name is Eman Abu Bakar–first made the two girls stand with their hands held over their heads for two hours. Bakar says she ‘warned’ the girls repeatedly to cover their heads and after they ignored her, Bakar claims another student handed the teacher a pair of scissors and another student implored her to take action. Bakar claims she only cut approximately two centimeters of the girls’ hair. Clearly, the length of hair isn’t the issue, but the public humiliation and even physical abuse these girls endured at the hand of a teacher is deeply alarming. A representative from the Cairo Institute for Human Rights commented on the incident saying “Whether in schools or outside schools, the general sentiment is that any abusive action, if it is justified as a protection of Islam, is tolerable.”
Egypt, like much of the Middle East, has endured great political and social turmoil in the past year-and-a-half during what has been dubbed the Arab Spring. With the majority of these nations overwhelmingly Muslim in their religious demography it is only natural that when a new government or regime comes into power that people seek to implement policies that enforce what they believe is just in accordance with their beliefs. What is not acceptable, however, is when the rights and liberties of the minorities are not protected. Help us raise a voice that will reach the Egyptian president and urge him and those in power to make sure that in these still formative days of their new regime that they don’t neglect to ensure that all Egyptians are free to conduct themselves as they like, so long as they don’t harm or infringe on anyone else.
Dear President Morsi,
As concerned global citizens, we were shocked to hear of the teacher who cut the hair of two young Egyptian girls simply because they were not wearing headscarves. We understand that the teacher has already been transferred and there is currently an ongoing investigation being carried out, however, a message needs to be sent by you that will communicate to your citizens that abusing and bullying of minority religious groups will not be tolerated under your regime. As you know, Egypt has many non-Muslims that have long called Egypt their home, but that will not continue if people are threatened, in schools and everywhere, because they do not adhere to Muslim customs.
We ask you now to publicly stand behind your minority religious groups and send a strong message to your Muslim community that this sort of abuse toward non-Muslims will not be tolerated. Diversity and tolerance go hand in hand, and if you remove one the other will disappear in turn. Please don’t let this opportunity go by without seizing the chance to make the climate in your country more tolerable of those who aren’t Muslims. Those citizens needs someone to protect their rights and ensure they will not be forgotten; they are looking for you to help them. We implore you, President Morsi, to please do so.
[Your name here]
Photo credit by Ilmarin via ilmarin.info