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7 Oct, 2023 04:47

Muslim-majority country considering restrictions on hijab

Kazakhstan plans to revise its laws regarding Islamic clothing
Muslim-majority country considering restrictions on hijab

Kazakhstan may ban the wearing of Islamic headscarves in public, Culture and Information Minister Aida Balayeva said during a press briefing in Astana on Friday. 

Balayeva said the authorities would revise and update current laws, which she said do not provide enough tools to tackle religious extremism and “non-traditional religious movements.” 

“The existing laws don’t even contain the term ‘destructive religious cults,’” she said, as quoted by news agency Kazinform.

Asked if the government would ban the wearing of Islamic headscarves and other religious garments, Balayeva replied: “We will definitely examine and propose such norms, at least for public spaces. Such [regulations] are practiced all over the world because it is a question of national security. It is very difficult to identify [people] in public spaces where the faces are covered.

“The ministry will work on the tightening of regulations in this field,” Balayeva added. The minister said the measures would be devised in consultation with NGOs and experts, including religious scholars. 

Speaking in front of a group of teachers on Thursday, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stressed the importance of secularism enshrined in the country’s constitution. “This principle must be strictly upheld in all spheres, including education,” he said.

Roughly 65% of the Kazakhtan’s residents are Muslims and 20% are Orthodox Christians, according to the 2021 census.

Debates over religious clothes have arisen in several countries in recent years, including Britain, France and Germany. Last month, France’s top court upheld a ban on the abaya – an Islamic robe-like garment worn by women – in schools.

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