Showing solidarity with the Muslim principal, Christian students in an Egyptian secondary girls school and their parents rushed to defend wearing headscarves in class, insisting they were not coerced but were simply following in the footsteps of Virgin Mary.
“All Christian girls in the school wear headscarves out of their own volition,” Merriam Nabil, a student at Al-Ayyat Technical School in the Giza governorate, was reported as saying.
“We have decided to stand by our principal to demonstrate to all that he did not force us to don the headscarf.”
A state-owned magazine had reported that the entire 2,700 students of the school, including 55 Christians, cover their hair with white headscarves. It claimed that the school’s principal, Magdy Fikri, coerced the Christian girls into putting on the Muslim head cover.
Accordingly, he was rebuked by the Ministry of Education and transferred along with two teachers from the school.
“We received complaints from some parents and girl students, who said that the principal forced Muslim and Christian girls to wear hijab,” Ministry of Education Undersecretary Hussein el-Sheikh said.
Fikri refuses to swallow claims that complaints had been lodged with the ministry from his students. “I can never believe that a student or one of my Christian colleagues is behind these alleged complaints,” he said.
“I have known them for years, they can never behave like this. We, Muslims and Christians, are one and do not bear grudges for one another.”
Minister of Education Yousri el-Gamal only backed down after the Christian girls joined hands with their Muslim colleagues in defending their principal. “The minister was moved by the Muslim-Christian solidarity in the case,” el-Sheikh said.