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Education minister said he was forced to transfer headmaster in headscarf row

Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris pictured with Alaa, the girl banned from school

Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris on Wednesday said he was forced to transfer a Nicosia high school headmaster who cautioned a Muslim pupil last week because she was wearing a headscarf.

He said an investigation into the incident was to be submitted to him on Wednesday.

The girl, Alaa, a Syrian refugee, returned to school on Monday after Hambiaouris on Saturday intervened and met her with her father, and the headmaster in question.

In the meantime, the headmaster was transferred to a different post which angered the pupils who accused the education ministry of forgiving racist behaviours.

Defending his decision, Hambiaouris told state broadcaster CyBC that he was forced to do it, because although the girl had said she was satisfied by what was said during the meeting last Saturday and wanted the issue to be over, student groups had said they would hold protests and even take over the school to prevent the headmaster from entering.

“The physical safety of both the headmaster and the pupils was at stake,” Hambiaouris said.

He said he decided to have the headmaster transferred to another post to avoid any incidents.

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