The wearing of hijab remains a problem of secondary schools in southern Kyrgyzstan
Administration of two secondary schools in the settlement of Kyzyljar (Jalalabad region of Kyrgyzstan) do not permit a group of girls to attend studies demanding that they take off the hijabs. The girls refuse to put up with the demand. Local authorities and the district directorate of public education keep their distance so as not to become involved and pretend that nothing extraordinary is happening.
Problem of the hijab has been discussed for years, and no involved party wants a compromise. Students' parents refer to the Holy Koran, teachers to school charters and resolutions of the local keneshes (councils).
Former regional kazy [Moslem judge, religious authority] Dilmurad Orozov is the head of the Center for Islamic Studies. He pins the blame for the conflict on juridical illiteracy of the local authorities and school administrations. "First, I'm telling you right here and now that the local authorities and teachers do not know or understand the Constitution and the law "On religion". Second, I blame them for encroachment on provisions of international accords that guarantee freedom of religion. Kyrgyz laws guarantee freedom of faith too. Every citizen of Kyrgyzstan is free to practice any religion and observe its rites as long as it does not collide with the existing regime," Orozov said.
Chirmash Dooronov, Chief of the Jalalabad Regional Directorate of Public Education, assigns the first priority to school charters. "I said it at the conference last year. The charter is the guiding document that regulates school life," Dooronov said. "If the charter includes the provision that students are permitted to wear the hijab, then they are free to do so. If the charter doesn't, then they are not."
The circle closes. Faith vs education, future, and a worthy niche in modern society. What is to be done?
Valentina Gritsenko of the Jalalabad Regional Human Rights Organization Justice points out that there is nothing to argue about - from the standpoint of the acting legislation. "International documents and the Constitution guarantee freedom of religion. The laws on religion, education, and other documents include the clauses dealing with the issues that cause the Kyzyljar conflict and other suchlike ones. Why all the fuss? Decisions of the local authorities and school charters are secondary to the Constitution and other laws. Making decisions and whatever, the local authorities must be guided by the Constitution. If it was not done for some reason, then the decisions and whatever should be revised," she said.
Hijab [Arab for obstacle or veil] (yashmak or paranja) is a veil covering the face and hands that Moslem women wear outdoors. The wearing of hijab was first restricted to Muhammed's spouses and was applied to all Moslem women at a later date. There are different kinds of hijab - black (sometimes other colors) veils for the whole body or only for the face - with a special net or holes for eyes; black semi-transparent headgear, and so on. Abandonment of hijabs became one of the symbols of Moslem women's liberation movement in the XX century. (The first such episode took place in Egypt in the 1870's.) Conservative Islam views hijab as one of the integral elements of the traditional code of ethics. Simplified hijabs (headgear and clothes that cover the hands and the neck) are usually worn in Moslem countries nowadays.