BAKU - The recent decision by an Azerbaijani university to ban students donning hijab from entering its campus has ignited anger among Azeri Muslims, already campaigning against a similar unconstitutional ban at schools.
How can the officials justify the new ban that is extended to the university students, teachers, etc.? religious expert Haj Zolfaqar Mikaeilzadeh told Press TV on Saturday, March 9.
Mikaeilzadeh was commenting on the measures taken by Azerbaijan State Oil Academy (ASOA) to prevent a student from entering the campus for wearing Hijab.
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He warned that the illegal Hijab ban currently enforced at high schools is now extending to the universities.
Leader of Azerbaijan Green Party Mais Gul Aliev joined opposition to the decision, saying that barring hijab at the university is illegal.
Aliev also called for an end to these unconstitutional measures.
Muslims, mostly Shiite, make up more than 93 percent of the former Soviet republic's population of 8.3 million people.
The rest of the population adheres to other faiths or are non-religious.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.
Like much of the ex-Soviet Union, Azerbaijan has witnessed a limited religious revival since independence in 1991.
The government of President Ilham Aliyev has been facing accusations of tightening controls on the Muslim religion in the country.
In mid-February 2010, the government ordered all state employees to remove Islam-related symbols -- like Qur'anic verses -- from their offices.
In December 2010, the secular government introduced a standard school uniform which precludes the wearing of hijab, an obligatory Muslim code of dress.
The move has triggered uproar in the country, with many Muslims taking to the streets to protest against the restriction.
In January 2011, Baku attempted to undermine the pro-Hijab movement in the country by rounding up Muslim activists and pressing unsubstantiated charges against them.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net