University in Egypt expels female student for hugging male friend

Egypt’s Al-Azhar university on Sunday said it had expelled a female student after she appeared in a video hugging a male colleague, accusing her of undermining the school’s reputation.

The video, which went viral earlier this month, showed a young man carrying a bouquet of flowers kneeling before a young woman and then hugging her in what appeared to be a marriage proposal.

The video was apparently not filmed at Al-Azhar — a branch of Egypt’s highest Sunni Muslim authority — but at another establishment, Mansoura University in the country’s north.

Nevertheless the disciplinary council of the Al-Azhar University campus in Mansoura on Saturday “decided to expel the young girl definitively”, university spokesman Ahmed Zarie told AFP.

He said the video had caused a “public outcry” and that the university’s decision to expel her was because she had presented a “bad image” of Al-Azhar University, which strictly segregates the genders.

He said hugging between unmarried men and women violates “the values and principles of society”.

The woman, however, can appeal the expulsion decision, Zarie said.

The young man who appeared in the video could also face sanctions, a spokesman for Mansoura University said, adding that the school’s disciplinary council will meet on Monday to decide his “punishment”.

Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country, is a largely conservative society.

Last year, prosecutors detained a female singer for four days for “incitement to debauchery” after an online video clip which included sensual oriental dances and suggestive gestures went viral.

And in 2017 another female pop singer was sentenced to two years in prison on similar charges, also over a video deemed provocative. Her sentence was reduced to a year on appeal.

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