MAKHACHKALA - Female Muslim students in the Muslim North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan will be allowed to don hijab (headscarf) in schools, quenching public debates which have erupted in several Russian regions.
"On an instruction from Dagestan's acting leader Ramazan Abdulatipov, designers of Dagestan have drafted school uniform outfits, a spokesman for Dagestan's education ministry, Ria Novosti news agency reported on Tuesday, September 3.
They are in line with the national school uniform requirements. The only element of [Dagestan] folk clothes is a thin headscarf.
The new school uniform, including an optional hijab, was approved by the government earlier this month.
The hijab issue has triggered fierce public debates in several Russian regions.
Last September, the southern Stavropol Region banned hijabs for schoolchildren.
Later in April 2013, parents challenged the ban in the Supreme Court after a regional court rejected their lawsuit in March after which the Supreme Court upheld the ban in July.
In April, the Krasnoyarsk State Medical University in Siberia had to annul rules banning students from wearing items of clothing that reflect their religious beliefs, including Islamic headscarves, after prosecutors ruled that the ban violates the law on education.
The issue was brought into the spotlight after media reported in March that a female student from Dagestan had been expelled from the university for wearing a traditional Islamic headscarf.
Joining the debate, Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the ban on hijab in schools, describing the outfit as an alien tradition.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.
The Russian Federation is home to some 23 million Muslims in the north of the Caucasus and southern republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Islam is Russia's second-largest religion representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million predominantly Orthodox population.