Moscow: Ramadan for Muslims in Russia's Stavropol region coincided with a Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on hijabs in the region's schools. The decision proved controversial with many Muslims fearing the ban will be introduced in the entire country.
The Supreme Court's decision came in reply to a complaint raised by several Russian citizens who demanded nullification of the hijab ban which was initially put in place by authorities in the multiethnic region.
The controversy began in October when five schoolgirls in Neftekamsk area in the region were barred from attending classes for two weeks as a form of punishment for wearing the hijab despite a school dress code that prohibits the wearing of any religious clothing or symbols.
The ban also covers casual and revealing clothes. Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted by the Russia Today website as objecting to the wearing of the hijab in Russian schools.
While acknowledging that religious sentiments should not be hurt, Putin said Russia was a secular country and people should behave accordingly. He went on to say schools should introduce uniforms so no group feels singled out.
The Council of Muftis in Stavropol had announced in October 2012 that some of the guardians of female pupils complained that their daughters had been banned from school for two weeks for wearing the hijab.
According to Russia Today, Minister of Education Dimitri Livanov commented on the matter by saying, "Wearing the hijab does not clash with the rules being followed in the education institutions and general traditions."
Last January, Russian authorities allowed Muslim women coming to Russia to work to wear the hijab while taking photographs necessary for official documents.
According to official statistics, Muslims form 10 percent of the region's population.