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Chechnya to allow wearing of religious symbols in schools

30 January 2017
Ramzan Kadyrov and Olga Vasilyeva (Instagram)

Chechnya is set to institutionalise the right to wear religious symbols, such as hijabs, crosses, or Jewish caps, in schools. A relevant bill has been put before the Chechen Parliament. The move comes in response to a statement made on 24 January by Russian Education Minister Olga Vasilyeva, calling for a ban on the hijab in schools.

Chairman of Parliament Magomed Daudov published a statement on the institution’s official website in support of the bill.

‘The irresponsible statement by the minister of education and science prompted us to send a similar signal. We, the deputies of the Parliament of the Chechen Republic, representing the ruling party, United Russia, fully support the position of the President of the Chechen Republic, Hero of Russia, Ramzan Kadyrov, to immediately initiate the adoption of this law in a multinational Chechen Republic, where children of different nationalities live. If they wish so, they can wear hijabs, crosses, and Jewish caps at schools. This law protecting their rights will allow them to talk with pride about the great spiritual values of their ancient religions in classrooms’, Magomed Daudov wrote.

Chechnya’s ombudsman, Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, supported the initiative to allow wearing of religious symbols at schools. He expressed hope that the decision of Chechen legislators would serve as an example for other regions.

Nukhazhiyev considered a ban on headscarves in Russian schools as ‘violating the constitutional rights of citizens and possibly giving rise to ethnic and religious conflicts’.

In Chechen society, which in recent years has undergone strong Islamisation, the sight of young girls wearing the hijab has become a familiar sight, which is why the majority supports the Chechen authorities in this matter. Teachers believe that wearing the hijab is good for discipline among students.

‘In my second grade, all girls wear obligatory headscarves together with uniforms. Some of them also wear hijabs. I can’t say that wearing certain clothes affects their performance, but it clearly influences their discipline. Girls in hijab behave modestly, apparently feeling the responsibility’, said Leyla, a primary school teacher from Grozny.

The education minister’s comments were made in support of a ban on wearing of hijabs in a Tatar school in Mordovia. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov reacted sharply to the federal minister’s comments and said that his daughters would never give up wearing their hijabs at school.