ANKARA, Turkey (AA): The Kremlin on Thursday avoided getting involved in a headscarf debate that made national headlines.
“We would not want to become a party to this discussion at the moment,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official spokesman, Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a press briefing, according to The Moscow Times.
Peskov’s remarks come after authorities in the Republic of Mordovia — an autonomous region in Russia – banned the students and the teachers from wearing headscarves at a school in the Tatar village of Belozerye.
The ban was imposed late December with the arrival of a new school principal, according to the Times.
Teachers and students staged protests, denouncing the ban as religious discrimination. A group among the students even stopped attending classes, according to the report.
However, some employees of the school told The Moscow Times that the decision came directly from a local branch of the Education Ministry of Mordovia.
Amid rising tension between the village and Mordovian authorities, Russia’s Education Minister Olga Vasilyeva showed support for the authorities by saying, “Truly religious people do not emphasize their faith with paraphernalia.”
Muslim Chechen and Tatar communities in Russia reacted harshly to Vasilyeva’s statements, demanding that Mordovian authorities remove the ban.
[Archive Photo: Vladimir Putin, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany visited Staraia Terizmorga, a village in the Mordovia Region on 19 July 2007. Photograph by the Kremlin]