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Women in Egyptian hair salon take on “virtue police”

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Summary of story from Bikyamasr, January 8, 2012

A group of women set upon a gang of self-proclaimed “virtue police” after they burst into a beauty salon in an Egyptian town and threatened to beat them.

The ultra-conservative Salafis had gone armed with canes into the salon in the Nile delta town of Benha to enforce “God’s law” and told them to stop what they were doing.

But instead of complying the women used the canes to beat the vigilante gang before kicking them out to the street in front of an “astonished” crowd of onlookers.

The incident comes amid growing concerns about women’s rights being restricted as Islamist parties grow in influence in Egypt.

The raid on the salon was part of a series of  “inspection checks” on clothes shops and other businesses to check that shop owners and customers were abiding by “God’s law”. Shop owners were told they could no longer sell ‘indecent’ clothing.

All retail businesses have been told that they should expect regular and surprise inspections by the group, which is modeling  itself on Saudi Arabia’s morality police as a “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice”.

The women who fought back against the Salafi group found support, however and Egypt’s religious authorities have ruled that the Salafi morality police had no legitimate or legal authority on the street.

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