Ban to wear kerchiefs to schools in southern Kyrgyzstan embittered students\' parents and the local Moslem community
Ferghana.Ru's piece "Secondary Schools In Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan, Tackle Problems With Moslem Traditional Clothing" (March 17, 2006) gave an account of the problem. Ferghana.Ru correspondent in the region reports elevation of the conflict between Moslems and state officials elevating to a new level.
The Jalalabad Municipal Department of Education banned the wearing of hijab or kerchiefs to school. Officials said it collided with school regulations. The article "We Are Building a Secular Society!" by Sharipa Jorobayeva of the Municipal Department of Education published in the new bulletin "Right For All" enraged Moslem parents and teachers of three secondary schools. Jorobayeva all but accused teachers of the three schools in question ("the ones that show the worst by way of marks") of the intention to establish the so called Islamic caliphate in Uzbekistan.
The matter concerns the schools where students are taught in the Uzbek language. A great deal of ethnic Uzbeks reside in southern Kyrgyzstan, their children (more than 26,000) attending 32 Uzbek schools. Uzbek families are known to be much more religious than Kyrgyz.
Jorobayeva wrote in her piece that students of the three Uzbek schools never won any olympiads or contests, and that they fared bad because they were spending too much time praying in mosques. The conclusion she draw was categoric, "If these three schools are out to establish a caliphate in Kyrgyzstan, they'd better know they will fail."
Students' parents and the local Moslem community opted for public debates. Musulmon [Moslem] editorial office of the Jalalabad Regional Religious Directorate arranged a roundtable conference for the involved parties. The conference took place on May 20.
Chyrmash Dooronov, the head of the Regional Directorate of Education, reminded the parents that by the acting legislation school uniforms were specified by the school charter, this latter adopted by teachers and students together. The seeming simplicity of the matter notwithstanding, the heated debates lasted hours.
Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbai Bakir uulu turned up by the end of the roundtable conference. He branded the decision of the Jalalabad Municipal Department of Education as illegitimate and said it should be annulled. "Not a single law that I know of forbids the wearing of a kerchief. What is not banned by the law is therefore permitted," he said. Bakir uulu answered some questions as well.
Students' parents eventually decided to send a letter to President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Ferghana.Ru news agency will keep you posted.