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Kazakh University Students To Sue Over Hijab Ban


Kazakh university students wearing the hijab. (file photo)

Kazakh university students wearing the hijab. (file photo)

AQTOBE, Kazakhstan -- Eight Kazakh female students at a university in northwestern Kazakhstan say they will sue school officials for not allowing them to attend classes wearing head scarves, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The students told RFE/RL that they have been unable to attend classes at Saqtaghan Baishev University because a duty officer at the school's entrance does not allow them to enter the university due to their head scarves, or hijabs.

Duty officer Nursaule Samatqyzy told RFE/RL that she had been instructed by school officials to keep female students wearing hijabs out of the university.

The students went to the Aqtobe branch of the Kazakh Bureau for Human Rights for help on the issue and lawyer Aghyzbek Tolegenov met with university Rector Khalel Khusainov on December 7 in an effort to resolve the problem.

Tolegenov told RFE/RL that Khusainov told him the university has its own internal regulations that correspond to the latest amendments introduced in the Kazakh Law on Religions and Religious Organizations passed earlier this year.

"I told him the university's internal regulations contradict Kazakhstan's Constitution, but he did not agree with that," Tolegenov said.

Saqtaghan Baishev University Deputy Rector Bayan Orynbaeva refused comment on the issue and told RFE/RL's correspondent to leave the university.

Nursaule Qurbanayis, the spokeswoman of Aqtobe's Nurghasyr Mosque, told RFE/RL that she cannot comment on the hijab issue because Kazakhstan is a secular country and "every believer should follow the country's secular laws and regulations first."

The Kazakh Constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to practice any religion freely and without restriction. The amendments to the Law on Religions and Religious Organizations do not say anything regarding the hijab or other religious dress.

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