Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Monday demoted 17 police officers for growing their beards in violation of ministry rules related to officers’ appearance.
The officers included Captain Hany al-Shakery, spokesman for “I am a Bearded Police Officer,” a group of police officers demanding the right to grow their beards.
The decision involves referring the officers to subsidiary services that do not require them to hold weapons or engage in policing activities.
The officers, who were notified of the decision Monday, told Al-Masry Al-Youm they intend to appeal the decision at the Administrative Court. They said they believe growing a beard is a personal freedom rather than a crime.
The officers noted that in addition to those demoted, there are dozens of others suspended and interrogated for the same charge.
Growing a beard and shaving one’s mustache is a habit followed by some religious Muslims who believe in keeping the same customs as Prophet Mohamed.
After the officers launched their Facebook campaign in February, Ibrahim warned that they would be punished. Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa decreed that shaving the beard does not represent a sin, an opinion opposed by more conservative scholars.
Security sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the minister based his decision on Article 67 of the police services law, which empowers the minister to refer officers to subsidiary services to protect public interest.
Brochures are routinely given out to officers containing directives on uniform and appearance, the sources said.
They said the maximum referral period is two years, after which the officers demoted would appear before the Supreme Police Council, which will decide whether to dismiss or reinstate them.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm