An Egyptian court on Wednesday upheld an earlier ruling on police officers and army officers not being allowed to grow beards or long hair, the state-run news agency MENA reported.
The ruling upheld an interior ministry decision earlier this year which warned those who do grow their beards will be referred to a disciplinary council.
A lawsuit had been filed against Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim by a group of bearded policemen, calling for the cancellation of this decree.
Many Islamic thinkers consider the beard to be a sign of a man’s commitment to his faith. But Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Ali Gomaa, once stated in a fatwa (religious edict) that prominent Islamic scholars disagreed on to what extent the beard is religiously mandatory for Muslim men.
The group of policemen said the court decision was “a violation of personal freedom and of Islamic Sharia, which is one of the main sources of legislation under the 1971 Constitution,” Egypt Independent online news website reported.
“They also argued that the Interior Ministry used Article 41 of the Police Law to punish them even though this law does not outline what the punishable ‘duty violations’ are,” the report added.
The website also noted that the ruling contradicts a court decision in May made by the administrative court in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city, which allowed policemen to grow their beards.
Both the interior ministry and the group of bearded officers have the right to appeal Wednesday’s ruling.