Uzbekistan will allow girls to wear headscarves in schools to ensure devout Muslim families send their daughters to school, the Central Asian country’s ministry of education said.
Islam is the dominant religion in Uzbekistan, but the authoritarian government is staunchly secular and has maintained strict control over the faith throughout its three decades of independence from the Soviet Union.
Education Minister Sherzod Shermatov said on Sept. 4 that authorities “plan to allow national headscarves and skullcaps in white or light colors” in schools after “calls from many parents”.
He said the move was necessary to ensure that every child received a secular education.
Prototypes of the permitted headscarves presented by Shermatov suggested that girls of school age would not be able to cover their chins, as is the case with the hijab – a head covering popular in the Muslim world.
Shermatov did not specify which age group the measures would affect.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has relaxed some controls on state-sanctioned Islam since taking power in the country in 2016 following the death of long-ruling autocrat Islam Karimov.
Earlier this year, Uzbekistan amended its law on freedom of conscience to allow women to wear the hijab in public places, but not in buildings housing state institutions, such as schools.
Other bans that have been overturned after Karimov’s death include a ban on children from visiting mosques and a ban on the use of loudspeakers for the call to prayer.
The United States government removed Uzbekistan’s sanctions designation as a “country of special concern” for religious freedom in 2018 and removed it from a “special watch list” of religious freedom violators last year.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)