Two unveiled women have been attacked in the Cairo metro in the past week.
Media reported that a woman wearing a niqab (veil and face covering) cut the hair of Magy Melad, a Coptic 13 year-old girl, on Monday. Melad said the woman threatened her saying “you can’t imagine what I am going to do to you” and then she (Melad) was surprised to see some of her hair lying on the back of her jacket.
In another incident, the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) reported two women wearing niqab cut the hair of Nariman Samuel, a Coptic 30 year-old woman, before dragging her out of the metro carriage.
Naguib Gabriel, chairperson of the Egyptian Federation for Human Rights, said Samuel was attacked when she tried to help a pregnant woman to sit on one the metro seats. He added the attackers called her an “infidel,” before throwing her out of the carriage, injuring her.
Tarek Zaghloul, executive director of EOHR, said Samuel was attacked by the two women for no apparent reason, adding that the incident took place in the early morning when few passengers were in the carriage. Zaghloul explained that Samuel was thrown out of the carriage as she tried to escape from the women.
Gabriel said Samuel’s husband filed a complaint with the police, which was referred to the prosecution office, and investigations are taking place.
Zaghloul said the government should provide female security officers inside every female metro carriage, in order to avoid the occurrence of such incidents. He added as nobody saw the face of the attackers, “we don’t even know if they were actually women or men.”
Abeer Aboul Ella, director of the press office at the National Council for Women (NCW), said they could not reach any of the two girls. However, she asserted that they contacted the Ministry of Interior and the metro authority to confirm the occurrence of the incidents.
Mohamed Abdel Salam, board member of NCW said they also called on the Ministry of Interior to intensify its efforts to arrest the attackers.
A similar incident took place in Luxor a few weeks ago, Eman Abou Bakr, teacher at Al-Hadadeen primary school, received a six-month suspended sentence for cutting the hair of two 12 year-old students for not wearing the hijab. Abou Bakr also wore the niqab.
Malek Adly, human rights lawyer, said these incidents are new forms of extremism in Egypt. He added that wearing niqab prevents authorities from identifying criminals, as it hides their faces.
“How can we live safely when we have black tents [referring to women wearing niqab] everywhere around us? I am not against women’s freedom to wear niqab, but it is the government’s responsibility to identify and arrest criminals attacking citizens, whoever they are,” concluded Adly.