Tags: Russia | russia | muslims | grievances | headscarf

Headscarf Debate Highlights Russian Muslims' Grievances

Monday, 22 Oct 2012 05:41 AM

 

MOSCOW A ban on girls wearing the Islamic headscarf to a school in southern Russia has angered Muslims and forced President Vladimir Putin, who has robustly defended the Orthodox Church, to affirm that Russia is a secular state.

Muslims in the town of Kara Tyube in the Stavropol region say the ban on the hijab at School No. 12 forces their children to choose between their religion and a state education.

"The principal phoned me personally and told me to come and take my children home because from now on they will not be allowed to attend lessons in Islamic dress," said Ravil Kaibaliyev, whose daughter Marian was barred from her middle school because of the white headscarf she wore every day.

"To force her [to remove her headscarf] would violate her integrity. She would be torn in a conflict between her soul and the others around her, and I think that is wrong," said Kaibaliyev, wearing a long beard and white prayer cap.

The school's principal, Marina Savchenko, said she had received threats over her decision, but did not regret it.

"Here everything should be very simple: it is an institution, so it's a secular dress code, business-dress style. That's all. End of discussion," she said outside the school.

It is Marian Kaibaliyev's misfortune to live in an area of Russia not recognised as Muslim enough to justify special recognition for Islamic practices.

In Tatarstan, female students freely wear headscarves to school. In Muslim Chechnya, which borders Stavropol and was the site of two separatist wars, a headscarf that covers a student's hair is part of an accepted dress code.

But in regions where they are in a minority, many of Russia's 15-20 million Muslims complain that their rights count for less than those of their Russian Orthodox counterparts.

DEFENDER OF FAITH

Putin received strong backing from the Russian Orthodox Church in his election campaign this year.

He cast himself as a defender of faith when he attacked an anti-government protest in February in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral by the punk band Pussy Riot as an attack on Russians' religious sensitivities.

But when he was asked last week about the situation at School no. 12 in a meeting with civic leaders, Putin came down squarely on the side of secularism.

"We should respect people's religious feelings but we should always proceed from the fact that we live in a secular state," he said, suggesting that Muslim headscarves could violate the principle of separation of religion and state.

Russia's Muslims, however, having seen the Orthodox Church grow in strength and influence since the end of communism, are growing increasingly ready to assert their religious identity.

They point to the fact that Moscow has only five mosques despite a population of 2 million faithful, and say that repeated applications to build more have been refused.

Abdullah Mukhametov, a Muslim political and religious analyst, said such grievances were often dismissed by authorities, who tended to try to fob Muslims off with token offerings, such as a ban on the crude anti-Islam video 'Innocence of Muslims' posted on the Internet.

"We can talk about the need to protect the religious freedoms and sentiments of all Russians," he said, "but at the end of the day there is a distinct feeling that some religions are simply more equal than others." 

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Sons of Egypt's Mubarak Freed from Prison

Monday, 26 Jan 2015 08:54 AM

The two sons of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were released from prison Monday, nearly four years after they w . . .

Hoax Caller Impersonating Spy Chief Put Through to UK PM Cameron

Monday, 26 Jan 2015 08:34 AM

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday security would be reviewed, but no harm had been done, after an appa . . .

Germany to Greece: Keep Commitments to Eurozone

Monday, 26 Jan 2015 08:04 AM

The stunning election in Greece of a radical anti-austerity party raises new uncertainties for the eurozone, but the ini . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved