After University President is Served with a Notice, Fayyoum University Implements Court Ruling Allowing Women Who Wear the Niqab to Take Exams

Press Release

22 July 2010

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) welcomed today the decision of the president of Fayyoum University to comply with a court ruling issued on behalf of several female students who wear the niqab, or full-face veil, in their final year at the Faculty of Education. The court ordered the university to convene a special proctoring committee to allow the students to take their exams after the university initially cancelled them because they wear the niqab.

Fearing that the students would lose an entire academic year of study, the EIPR had issued a legal notice to the university president in June requesting that he implement the court ruling. The university convened a special committee to oversee the students’ exams in psychology and sociology on 15 July.

“The university president should have complied with the court ruling immediately, without delay and without waiting to be served with a notice, particularly since the ruling was self-executing,” said Hoda Nasrallah, an attorney with the EIPR. “The fact that the university president implemented the ruling is not a gift granted by the university, but rather the correction of a mistake and compliance with a legal obligation. We hope this ruling puts an end to discriminatory, punitive measures taken by universities against students who wear the niqab, which violate constitutional protections for personal freedom and the freedom of belief.”

The Court of Administrative Justice, Beni Soueif and Fayyoum circuit, issued a ruling in case no. 3525/10 on 8 June 2010, suspending two university decrees that cancelled exams for students who wear the niqab to their exams. The court ruled that the decrees were “inconsistent with the personal freedom guaranteed by the Constitution and are marred by the arbitrary use of authority.” The court ordered the university to convene a special committee to administer the exams during second-semester exams. Although the ruling was self-executing, the university refused to do so, restating its position to the students, and it refused to set a date for the convocation of the exam committee. In turn, the EIPR, which represented one of the petitioners in the case, had the president of the university served with a legal notice.