Egyptian police officers protesting over beards 370.
(photo credit: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)
CAIRO - An Egyptian court ruled on Wednesday that policemen
may grow beards, ending a decades-old convention barring them from making what
is often seen here as a display of Islamic piety.
Dozens of police
officers were suspended from work in February for breaking the de facto ban on
beards introduced under deposed President Hosni Mubarak. They had protested
outside the Interior Ministry, calling on Islamist President Mohamed Morsi - who
is bearded himself - to secure their reinstatement.
Administrative Court rejected a request by the Interior Ministry to let it
suspend officers who defied the unwritten rule. "The court ruled ... that police
officers have the right to grow beards," judge Maher Abu el-Enin
Mubarak used the police to crush Islamist groups he saw as enemies
of the state. During his rule, sporting any kind of beard precluded Egyptians
from holding senior government posts.
Wednesday's decision backed a
similar ruling by a lower court and the decision makes the verdict final. The
Interior Ministry's spokesman was not immediately available to
Men across Egyptian society wear beards, including many
leftists, but the pressure for ending the police ban came from religious
officers who wish to emulate the Prophet Mohammad.
Brotherhood, the state's most organized Islamist movement, has come to power
through elections since the popular uprising that toppled Mubarak in February
The ruling is expected to raise worries among minority Christians,
liberal-minded Muslims and others who fear that emboldened Islamists will try to
force their beliefs and customs on society.
Morsi said during his
campaign for the presidency that he had no objection to members of the security
forces growing beards.