Russian Supreme Court upholds ban on wearing hijab at school

The Russian Supreme Court has found lawful the requirements set for the appearance of schoolchildren and enforced by a resolution of the government in the Republic of Mordovia, which banned the wearing of the hijab and other religious clothes at education establishments in the region.

The Russian Supreme Court has found lawful the requirements set for the appearance of schoolchildren and enforced by a resolution of the government in the Republic of Mordovia, which banned the wearing of the hijab and other religious clothes at education establishments in the region.

The appeal challenging that ban has been rejected, and the resolution of the Mordovia Supreme Court has come into effect, an Interfax correspondent reports.

The petitioners who represented the Islamic community of Mordovia asked for the decision of the Mordovia court to be declared unlawful and claimed it violated the freedom of religion.

They also said that the resolution of the Mordovia government contradicted the Law on Education, which proclaimed universal access to education.

A female petitioner claimed that "kerchiefs were torn off from small girls' heads in Saransk schools, the girls were ousted from class assemblies and children and even their parents were subject to disciplinary punishment."

Kerchiefs are permitted in Tatarstan, compulsory in Chechnya and outlawed in Mordovia. "And we are not talking about hijabs, just about filmy kerchiefs," she said.

A representative of the Mordovia government asked the court to turn down the appeal.

The Mordovia court found lawful the requirements set for the appearance of school children, which banned the wearing of religious clothes, including the hijab, at education establishments in the republic last fall.

Head of the Mordovia Central Islamic Department Fagim Shafiyev asked the prosecution service to offer a legal opinion on the resolution of the republican government concerning the school wear, which outlawed religious clothing at schools.

The mufti explained his request with "numerous letters from concerned parents".

About 50,000 Tatar Muslims constitute one of the three biggest ethnic groups in Mordovia. The other large ethnic groups are Russians and Mordovins, Shafiyev said. In his words, many female Muslims are wearing kerchiefs to school. There had been complaints about bans on wearing kerchiefs before but those were individual cases.

The Mordovia prosecution service said that the government resolution met federal laws.

The government banned not only hijabs but also mini skirts, jeans, scoop neck shirts, piercings, brightly dyed hair and religious symbols.

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