Students protest niqab ban

More than 1000 students wearing the niqab demonstrated at Cairo University on Tuesday to protest a decision of the Higher Council for Universities which prevents students from being admitted into examination rooms with their faces veiled.

The demonstration has now entered its second day. The university’s administration and guards prevented reporters from covering the first day of the protest, the intensity of which forced the president of the university and his deputies to leave through the back doors.

In solidarity with their colleagues, female students not wearing the niqab also joined in the protest. The protestors held banners demanding that they be allowed to take their exams. They suggested, as an alternative to a ban on the niqab, having body searches before doing the exams or having their exams administered in separate rooms.

Meanwhile, dozens of physical therapy students at Cairo University continued their protests, refusing to sit their mid-term exams. The protests, which are in their third day, are against the proposal of the head of the Doctors Syndicate to transform the faculties of physical therapy into technical institutes. A number of physical therapy interns who work at Kasr el-Aini hospital also threatened to go on strike.

The protestors said that they wanted the General Physical Therapy Syndicate to be affiliated with the General Union of Medical Professions, and called for amendments to the law regarding the exercise of their profession.

They also called for a description of the profession of physiotherapy and job descriptions for physiotherapists to be drawn up in line with Law 3/1985 and relevant legal opinions and judicial verdicts. They also asked for the appointment of a physiotherapy consultant at the Ministry of Health.

In addition the protestors called for expedition of the endorsement of the new bylaws of the Cairo University faculty of physical therapy, and for the study of physiotherapy to be restricted to faculties of physical therapy. The students also rejected the establishment of new private physical therapy faculties.

The students threatened to go on hunger-strike if their calls are not heeded, and they are now organizing a protest to be held in front the People’s Assembly and the Ministry of Health, planning to call on President Mubarak and any other concerned officials to intervene in their favor.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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