When 12-year-old Rahma Salem refused to wear a hijab to school in the Delta in northern Egypt, teachers ordered her to leave her lessons and would not let her take part in any activity.
“I was made to stand all alone in the school courtyard. The headmistress later came to me and said: ‘Here in school, you put on the headscarf. Outside, you may do as you wish.’
She thought I was a Christian,” said Rahma, the only girl, and a Muslim, who dared to turn up to school with her hair uncovered.
“No girl can show up with her hair showing. They all have to wear the hijab,” explained Rahma on a talkshow interview on an independent satellite channel earlier this month.
When asked if exceptions were made for Christian girls, she answered: “Christian girls have to wear the hijab. As soon as the end-of-day bell rings, they start taking it off.”
When Salem’s mother went to complain to the Higher Board of Education in her home town of Zagazig, she was told, “Stop being an idiot! Don’t you want your daughter to be decent?”
This case is not isolated. A number of parents across the country have reported rising intolerance towards pupils who do not wish to wear the veil, and bullying of non-Muslim children by teachers and by pupils who follow their lead.
What goes on in the classroom is echoed in the wider atmosphere in Egypt, where Christians are facing growing ostracism and persecution in a country that has repeatedly enshrined Islam as its official religion and Sharia as the source of its legislation.
- Pray for women and girls in Egypt as they face increasing pressure to conform to strict Muslim rules on dress and behaviour.
- Pray for Christian children, as they face growing opposition and ostracism in their school and communities. Pray for their protection, and for more Muslim children to stand with them and for their freedom of belief.
- Pray for the Egyptian government to uphold its official stance on freedom of belief for all people, and to protect Christian communities.
- Pray for this nation, as it faces increasing pressure from fundamentalist Islam, that many across this nation will come to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to know Him as Saviour and Lord.
Isaiah 58 vs 6: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”