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ICC Note:
The case of Ferial Habib, an Egyptian Christian who was told to wear a headscarf at school, is one example among many why Christians fear “they will become the victims as Islamists grow more assertive after the Feb. 11 toppling of President Hosni Mubarak,” The Associated Press reports. “It also illustrates how amid the country’s political turmoil, with little sense of who is in charge and government control weakened, Islamic conservatives in low-level posts can step in and try to unilaterally enforce their own decisions.”
By Maggie Michael
10/9/2011 Egypt (AP) – On her first day to school, 15-year-old Christian student Ferial Habib was stopped at the doorstep of her new high school with clear instructions: either put on a headscarf or no school this year.
Habib refused. While most Muslim women in Egypt wear the headscarf, Christians do not, and the move by administrators to force a Christian student to do it was unprecedented. For the next two weeks, Habib reported to school in the southern Egyptian village of Sheik Fadl every day in her uniform, without the head covering, only to be turned back by teachers.
One day, Habib heard the school loudspeakers echoing her name and teachers with megaphones leading a number of students in chants of “We don’t want Ferial here,” the teenager told The Associated Press.
Habib’s was allowed last week to attend without the scarf, and civil rights advocates say her case is a rare one. But it stokes the fears of Egypt’s significant Christian minority that they will become the victims as Islamists grow more assertive after the Feb. 11 toppling of President Hosni Mubarak. It also illustrates how amid the country’s political turmoil, with little sense of who is in charge and government control weakened, Islamic conservatives in low-level posts can step in and try to unilaterally enforce their own decisions.

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