An Egyptian teacher who wears a niqab, or full face veil, has been sanctioned after cutting the hair of two girls in her class for not wearing a head veil, press reports said on Thursday.
Residents of the southern city of Luxor "were angered after the teacher in a niqab cut the hair of two sixth-form students to oblige them to wear the veil," independent daily Al-Shuruk reported.
Another daily, Al-Masry al-Youm, quoted the woman as saying: "I did not imagine that cutting off two centimetres (of hair) was a great crime.
"I was joking with them when one of the students got out some scissors and asked me to carry out my threat. I did it to maintain my authority."
The father of one of the girls filed a formal complaint against the teacher, who said she has been wearing the niqab for five years and who was sanctioned with the loss of a month's salary.
Most Muslim women in Egypt cover their hair, but the full face veil is associated with the ultra-conservative Salafist school of thought.
Ironically, Egypt's Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious centre of religious learning in the Sunni Muslim world, banned the face veil from its female-only classrooms and residences in 2009.
Since the election this year of President Mohamed Morsi, who comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, there have been fears among more liberal Egyptians that the influence in the public sphere of Muslim fundamentalists will grow.