BISHKEK - Facing unjustified hijab ban in her home country, 14-year-old Kyrgyz girl Rahat had to quit her school, ending any prospects of a promising future or education.
The school would not let me enter the school with my hair covered, Rahat told Russia Today on Saturday, February 25.
Now I can be what I want to be, she added.Hijab: What's It All About? (Folder)
Rulings of Hijab
For her, dreams of getting a university degree were dashed by the hijab the Kyrgyz government decided to ban headscarf from schools.
Banned from entering schools while donning hihab, Rahat transferred to an Adult Learning Center.
Though the center tolerates her headscarf, it has far lower educational standards.
Rahat is not alone.
At the beginning of this school year last September 2011, Muslim students in Kyrgyzstan were banned from attending classes over their headscarf.
Many students were either forced to remove their headscarf or sent home if they refused to take it off.
Schools in the predominantly Muslim Central Asian state cite a decision by the Education Ministry to ban the headscarf, an obligatory code of dress in Islam.
Protesting the unofficial ban, many Muslim students choose to follow Rahat example and quit school.
I personally know many girls who are Muslims like myself and who, faced with the ban on head cover, just had to quit schools altogether and now stay at home, she added.
The dispute is no new in the impoverished mountainous country.
Every year with the start of the school year, several Muslim girls face exclusion from state schools for wearing hijab.
Schools' officials have been citing guidelines instructing them to interpret and enforce the school dress code more strictly.
In 2009, education official declared that schoolgirls will no longer be allowed to wear hijab.
The decision was blasted by rights advocates as running against the very principles of religious freedom.
Following controversial moves by the Kyrgyz government, hijab ban was claimed to be a trial to adhere to a moderate brand of Islam.
Up to 80 per cent of new mosques were built through some sort of partnership with Arab countries, mainly Saudi Arabia or Qatar. And they provide more than money, Armen Sharshenov from the State Committee on Religious Affairs told Russia Today.
They export their ideology here.
Yet, rights advocates warned that the hijab ban was the latest of attacks on religious freedom in the impoverished mountainous country.
Muslims make up 75 percent of Kyrgyzstan's 5-million population.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.
The right to religious freedom has recently come under attack in Kyrgyzstan, according to domestic and international rights activists.
In 2009, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed a law banning proselytism, private religious education and the import or dissemination of religious literature.
The law also requires all religious communities to register with the state.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net