The standoff between bearded police officers and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim escalated on Monday, when 17 officers were referred to a disciplinary board for growing beards.
Some of the officers involved in the issue told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Monday that they have initiated procedures to file a lawsuit against the minister to rescind his decision prohibiting police officers from growing beards.
Officer Hani al-Shakiry, spokesman for the “I am a Bearded Police Officer” movement, said the minister claims he referred them to the disciplinary board for the good of society.
His colleague, Walid Hosny, wondered how a beard could harm the good of society, and added that many officers are being investigated for this reason.
Security sources said Ibrahim used Article 67 of the Police Act, which allows him to refer officers to a disciplinary board for the good of the public.
Ibrahim’s decision on Monday also said that bearded officers should be demoted to subsidiary services that do not require them to carry weapons or engage in policing activities.
The issue was raised last month after a Facebook page named “I am a bearded policeman,” whose administrators said they were police officers, called for allowing officers to grow their beards in line with Islamic tradition.
Ibrahim says that having a beard is a non-binding religious tradition and that the ministry will be firm with officers who break the rules. Those campaigning for the right to grow beards rejected the remarks.
Last month Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta, the supreme Islamic body responsible for issuing religious decrees, urged police officers who want to grow their beards to respect Interior Ministry rules about their appearance.
A Dar al-Ifta statement said that respecting the rules is not wrong as long as they don’t clash with Islamic teachings.
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.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm