See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Azerbaijan: Hijab ban introduced in schools

A hijab-wearing student in Baku

Last week hundreds of protesters staged a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Education in Baku, Azerbaijan, expressing their outrage against new regulations banning the wearing of hijabs in schools. Press reports say that between 12 and 16 demonstrators were arrested.

In a move some say is designed to bring the secular predominantly Muslim country closer to Europe, Azerbaijan follows a number of other countries in banning religious head scarves in schools. It also follows the closure of several mosques late last year under a new law on religion.

Tamada Tales explains why, ostensibly, the ban was introduced.

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.

Strict followers of Islam are believed to be in a minority in Azerbaijan, although many outside observers believe the government is concerned about the rise of religious fundamentalism in the country. Several bloggers therefore saw this as an undemocratic attack on individual rights. Challenging the rationality of the move, blog @ gurbanoff, for example, considered it intolerant.

Bu axı demokratiya deyil, zorakılıqdır! Mənə maraqlı deyil, kim İslamı dəstəkləyir, kim islamiyətə qarşı çıxır, kim hicabı dəstəkləyir, kim soyunmağı… Məsələ ondadır ki, bir dövlətin xalqının geyimini əsgər kimi dəyişdirməyə çalışması sadəcə zorakılıq sayıla bilər.[…]

[…]Bu qədər absurd bir qərar ola bilməz zənnimcə. […]Mən dini rejim tərəfdarı deyiləm, amma din azadlığını sonuna qədər dəstəkləyirəm. […] Sadəcə geyimə olan hücum deyil bu, insanların inanclarına qarşı bir hörmətsizlikdir.

This is not democracy, but violence! I do not care who supports Islam and who is against it, or who supports wearing the hijab or who is not… The point is that if a country tries to change what people wear in such a militant way then this is violence.[…]

[…] I think there can be no other absurd decision than this. […] I am not a supporter of a religious regime, but I fully support freedom of religion. […] It is not only attack on this style of dressing, but is disrespect for people's faith.

A similar approach was taken by Simasız quldurlar blogu who also considered that the Minister of Education should be more concerned with tackling other vital problems afflicting the education system.

Misir Mərdanov təhsil mərkəzlərində hicablı şəxslərə qadağa qoymaqdan danışır. Mərdanov yaxşı olardı ki, Azərbaycan təhsilinin səviyyəsindən, təhsildə olan rüşvətdən,[…] danışsın.

[…]

Azərbaycan təhsil sistemində hicab yox, azad təhsil, savadlı, azad, vicdanlı müəllim problemi var.[…]Mərdanov bu problemin necə həll edilməsindən danışsa yaxşı olar.

Misir Mardanov talks about a ban on head scarves in education centers. Mardanov should rather talk about the level of education, corruption […]

[…]

There is no problem with the hijab in the education system of Azerbaijan. There is the problem of independent education, and educated, free and honest teachers […]

Nota Bene agreed.

[…] mənə elə gəlir ki, bu vahid məktəbli forması fikri də bəhanədir. Axı ali təhsil ocaqlarının ki, xüsusi bir forması yoxdur, bəs oraların bəzilərinə niyə başı bağlı qızlar buraxılmırlar?! Maraqlı sualdır, elə deyilmi?

It seems that this unified school uniform is just an excuse. Universities do not have a unified uniform, so why are girls with their heads covered not allowed to enter some of them?! Interesting question, isn't it?

Albeit in a minority, there were some bloggers who supported the ban. Reschadbabali's blog considered that there should be no place for hijab at schools in a secular country.

Yenə də dindarlar demokratiya davası edirlər. Təhsil nazirinin orta məktablərdə başörtüsünü qadağan etməsini bunlar insan haqqlarına hücum kimi qiymətləndirirlər […]

[…]

Din dövlətdən ayrıdı.[…] Məktəb də dövlətin olduğu yerdi. Bəs vicdan azadlığı? deyə o saat hazır sualın dillərində olduğu his edirəm. Vicdan azadlığı deyə inancını bəs niyə mənim beynimə yeritmək istəyirsən? Məcburammı ki sənin həqiqətlərini qəbul edim?

Again religious people are making a fuss about democracy. They treat the ban on head scarves in schools by the Ministry of Education as an attack on human rights […].

[…]

Religion is separate from the state. School is where the state is. How about freedom of faith? I feel this is the question begging to be asked. Why do you want to impose your confession on me by flagging freedom of faith then? Do I have to accept your truths?

Reportedly, as of today, some parents have decided that their daughters should not attend school in protest at what they consider to be a discriminative act. Meanwhile, video of last week's demonstration shows protesters to be mainly men.

3 comments

  • […] over at Global Voices, did a fantastic job gathering up reactions and video about the situation and it’s well worth the click over to get an idea of what […]

  • […] were concerned, on the basis of individual freedom rather than religious conviction, by the introduction of a ban on the hijab in schools. Emin Milli (left) reunited with Adnan Hajizade (right) after their release this week. Photo via […]

  • […] Tales comments on reports that a protest held to oppose a ban on the hijab in schools today ended in clashes with police. The blog notes the official line that the demonstration outside […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site