CHRISTIAN children are being deprived of their education and being ousted from schools for refusing to wear a hijab, it has been revealed.
Schools across Egypt are forcing girls of every religion to wear the Muslim headscarf and children of both sexes are being punished if they cannot quote the Koran off by heart.
Even Muslim girls who refuse to wear a hijab are being forced out of school in a country where Coptic Christians have previously been able to live free of persecution.
Rahman Salem, 12, was ordered to leave her lesson and banned from taking part in any activities at her school in the Delta, northern Egypt.
Other pupils gave her nasty looks and started leaving the Muslim girl out over the incident.
She said: "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.’
"No girl can show up with her hair showing. They all have to wear the hijab.
"Christian girls have to wear the hijab. As soon as the end-of-day bell rings, they start taking it off.”
Her mother said: “I was told ‘Stop being an idiot! Don’t you want your daughter to be decent?’.
"I was shocked when other mothers stopped me at the gate. ‘What’s that? How can your daughter show up like this?’
“I re-inspected my daughter’s uniform, and incredulously asked what was wrong. ‘Her head and neck have to be strictly covered!’"
Last month another school in the same province of Sharqia put in force rules to make all female students wear a hijab, with the al-Nassiriya School’s headteacher posting a large sign saying Islam dress is now part of the girls’ uniform.
And Christian seven-year-old Viola Samir told how her Islamic religious studies teacher held eight Christian pupils in her class of 35 children back.
The teacher then beat anyone who had not learnt the Koran off by heart.
Usually, Christian students in Egypt move to a different classroom during religious studies classes where they learn about Christianity while Muslims stay and learn about Islam.
Viola’s father told Christian persecution website, World Watch Monitor: "When my daughter told the teacher that the extra texts were not part of the Arabic curriculum [which all students have to learn], she was severely punished by her teacher.
"The Christian religious studies teacher complained to the headmaster, but he took no disciplinary action against the Muslim teacher.
“In the end, the teacher allowed the Christian children to leave the class to join their Christian studies class.”
Another parent in a different school in the same town of Samalout, 155 miles from Cairo, said his 11-year-old son son was caned for not reciting verses from the Koran.
He said: “"Once, the teacher, Mohamed, caned Abanob on the back of his hands, afterwards forcing him to stand with his face to the board and both arms up in the air for the entire length of the lesson.
“My son had failed to repeat the Koranic text by heart when prompted to.”
All the parents said their children now hate going to school and are often absent due to bullying from both teachers and children.
Christian Kyrellos Shafiq, 9, was given a “zero” for his homework and the teacher told him his “handwriting is rubbish”.
His father said: "The teacher made the other students pin down my son as he gave him the bastinado, caning him on his bare feet. It seems only Christians are given this punishment.
“They’re 12 out of 42 in my son’s class."
Many Christians have been forced to flee from other Middle East countries such as Syria and Iraq due to Islamic State, but in Egypt Christian Copts have been able to live within a margin of tolerance.