A recent ban on the wearing of hijab in Russia’s southern region of Stavropol is squeezing the Muslim population in the area, forcing many to send their daughters to neighboring districts to be able to wear the outfit or give them home schooling.
“If they think that because something will happen with my daughter I will forget my religion – I say, no, religion is the goal of my life,” Ali Salikhov, a Muslim father, told The New York Times on Tuesday, March 19. “For 70 years they taught us that there was no God, but that passed, and this will also pass. In 20 years they will have forgotten that hijabs were ever forbidden in Russia.”
Salikhov’s daughters have been prohibited from wearing hijab after their school in the village of Kara-Tyube banned the Muslim outfit in October. Though they were initially allowed to attend their school in September while donning hijab, they were told later that they would not be allowed in unless they took off their headscarf.
The issue grabbed media attention after their stern Russian schoolmistress became hero for refusing to admit the girls to school in hijabs.
The region’s leaders backed her up by introducing a uniform that does not allow girls to wear head coverings at all – a restriction that affects a population of around 2.7 million. Joining the debate, Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the ban on hijab in schools, describing the outfit as an “alien tradition”.
The restrictions have left no other option to Muslim families but to send their daughters to other districts to continue their education, while observing their religion.