Azerbaijan Debates: School Uniform vs Hijab
Hundreds of Muslim believers gathered on December 10 outside Azerbaijan's education ministry to protest a ban on hijab -- traditional Muslim head scarves for women -- in the country's public schools. Protestors argue that the ban is an infringement on their beliefs, but Education Minister Misir Mardanov is having none of it.
Islam's popularity may be on the uptick in Azerbaijan, but the minister does not consider it normal in a secular state for female students to wrap the scarf and, hence, the religion around their heads while in school. “What does it mean when a 16-year-old girl sits in a class with her head covered?” asked Mardanov. “Everyone can wear whatever they want outside the school, but there are some rules and laws in the classroom.”
And, Baku police might add, outside of it, too. Sixteen pro-hijab protestors were arrested on Friday; 11 of them are expected to appear in court, Trend reported.
Azerbaijan's school rules require secondary school students to wear uniforms, reminiscent of Soviet-era uniforms. The uniforms were reintroduced in Azerbaijani school this year to banish growing social inequality from classrooms, as authorities put it.
“We all believe in Allah, and the Koran is our desk book… but abiding by the rules of secondary schools does not run counter to the Muslim religion,” Mardanov declared.