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Russian Court Upholds Ban On Religious Clothing At Stavropol Region Schools

A young girl wear Islamic-style head scarf in Stavropol, in sourthern Russia.
Russia's Supreme Court has upheld a ban on Islamic head scarves or hijabs at schools in the multiethnic region of Stavropol.

"Taking into account the principles of the Russian Constitution and Russian legislation on the secular nature education, this resolution [to ban Islamic wear] is aimed at ensuring students of educational institutions adhere to the same norms that are expected of business-style clothing," Vladimir Molchanov, a Stavropol official representing the region's governor, told journalists in Moscow on July 10 after the ruling was announced.

The lawyer representing Muslim families in Stavropol that filed the case, Murad Musayev, indicated that he planned to appeal the Supreme Court's decision.

"Our main argument is that no regional government has the right to restrict the constitutional rights of citizens, including freedom of religion. Legally, such restrictions can be introduced only by the federal legislature, and that's it," he said.

"We are not discussing whether it is right or wrong to ban head scarves at schools or introduce uniforms. Our arguments are free of ideology but they are concerned only with the law."

Stavropol's governor, Valery Zerenkov, introduced a dress code for the region's schools last autumn. Several families in the region's Neftekumsk district complained that their daughters, who were wearing hijabs, were not allowed to enter their schools.

The dress code prohibited the wearing of any religious clothing or clothes with religious symbols. It also banned casual clothes considered too revealing and shoes with heels higher than 7 centimeters.

Stavropol's regional court ruled that the introduction of the dress code was legal.

The Stavropol region borders Russia's mostly Muslim-populated republics of Chechnya, Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachaevo-Cherkessia.

With reporting by RIA Novosti, ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and Reuters
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