Hijabs banned in Siberian village school

Prosecutors in southern Siberia have demanded that high school girls in a remote mountain village give up Muslim headscarves in classes to avoid violating a new nationwide secular dress code.

A check found some hijab-wearing students in a school in the Kosh-Agachsky district of Russia’s Altai Republic, local prosecutors said on their website Friday.

Russia introduced mandatory dress code requirements in public schools on September 1, the start of the new school year.

A degree of flexibility regarding school clothing is still acceptable, but hijab wearers have been bending the rules too much because Russian schools are secular by law – which includes the dress code – and the headscarf is a religious attribute, the prosecutors said.

No complaints have been reported so far over the ban. Prosecutors already banned headscarves in several district schools last year – when no dress code was in force – but eased the ban on the request of a local imam, the Gorno-Altaisk.info local news site said Friday.

The Republic of Altai, located in the eponymous mountain range, has a population of 210,000. Its two biggest ethnic groups are Russians and the indigenous Altai people, who adhere to either Christianity of shamanism, but the region also has a small population of Kazakh Muslims.

RIA Novosti, 6 September 2013