CAIRO: The bearded policemen who were suspended from work for growing beards are considering filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court for reinstatement, spokesperson of the “bearded policemen” group Captain Hany al-Shakery told Youm7 Monday.
“We want Egypt to be based on the values of the January 25 Revolution, including freedom of thought,” said Shakery.
During the era of former President Hosni Mubarak, police and army personnel were not allowed to grow beards and those with beards were precluded from holding senior government posts and joining police or military academies.
A few days after Mubarak stepped down, a group of police officers launched a Facebook page called “I am a bearded police officer,” and decided to grow their beards in accordance with their Islamic interpretation.
However, policemen are not allowed to grow their beards according to Ministry of Interior codes of conduct, former Deputy Minister of Interior Major General Magdy Al Basyouni told The Cairo Post.
During his presidential campaign, Egypt’s former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi said he had no objection to members of the security forces growing beards.
In March 2012, several bearded police officers were referred to the ministry’s disciplinary committee for growing their beards, according to the group’s Facebook page.
“1600 police officers and conscripts submitted official requests to the Interior Ministry to allow them to grow their beards,” admin of “I am a bearded police officer” Facebook page Colonel Yaser Gomaa told Massress news website.
The Interior Ministry referred some police officers to a disciplinary committee and suspended others from work, said Gomaa.
In March 2012, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim demoted 17 police officers for growing beards, saying that it violates the rules of the Interior Ministry related to the officers’ appearance, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
In response, the suspended bearded police officers decided to file a lawsuit challenging the decision.
In January 2013, the Administrative Court’s state commissioner’s authority supported a final ruling granting police personnel the right to grow their beards, affirming a previous Alexandria Administrative Court ruling to that effect.
The law allows the Interior Ministry to refer officers who do not fulfill their duties to a disciplinary board but growing a beard does not represent a breach of duty or require punishment, said the ruling grounds.
Ibrahim challenged the ruling and said that the personnel disciplinary measures are the main purview of ministry committees and do not fall within the jurisdiction of administrative courts, according to Youm7.
Vice President of the State Council Mohamed Hendawy responded by saying that the act does not violate law 109/1971 that governs security forces and that the constitution ensures personal freedoms and rights.
Growing a beard is one of many debates in Islam, Sheikh Ali Gomaa Egypt’s former Grand Mufti told El-Watan newspaper.
“While the majority of scholars maintain that the shaving of beards is unlawful, the Shafiis maintains that it is disliked.” said Gomaa.