This video is called Putin makes public comment against headscarves.
By Clara Weiss:
Russian President Putin advocates ban on headscarves in schools
24 October 2012
Last Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly spoke out in favor of a ban on headscarves in Russian schools. To this end he intends to introduce legislation laying down guidelines for school uniforms.
Putin’s announcement came after a months-long official campaign promoting nationalism and orthodox Christianity aimed at diverting attention away from the increasing social tensions in the country. About 20 million of the 143 million people living in Russia are Muslims.
The immediate reason for Putin’s comment was an incident at a school in the southern Russian region of Stavropol. On October 3 the local school board banned girl students wearing headscarves from attending class. The girls’ parents then lodged a protest against the action of the school board.
According to the Mufti Council of Stavropol, a series of similar incidents have occurred in the region, especially in cities and areas with a large Muslim population. The Stavropol region is predominantly populated by orthodox Christians, but is also a focal point for Muslim refugees from the nearby Caucasus, which has been devastated and reduced to abject poverty by wars waged by the Kremlin.
The Culture Ministry in Stavropol sided with the school management, declaring that every school has the right to introduce school uniforms on their own initiative. The Russian culture minister then criticized this decision, prompting Putin to speak out on the issue and personally support the head teacher at a press conference. Putin stated: “We must assume we are a secular state. We are a multinational state, but the church is separated from the state.”
Putin said that Russia must take other European countries—including France, Belgium and Denmark—as role models. All of these countries have approved school bans on headscarves. Such a ban would take place in Russia by introducing a standardized school uniform, to be defined and applied in Russia’s various regions.
Putin’s argument that Russia is a “secular state” is specious and cynical. The French and Belgian governments have used exactly the same argument to defend their reactionary ban on the wearing of headscarves in schools and burqas in public.
The separation of church and state means that the church has no influence on the state, which, for its part, does not interfere in personal religious matters. The wearing of the veil, which is an intrinsic element of their faith for many Muslim women, does not violate such a separation. Quite the contrary, it is the ban on headscarves that constitutes an attack on democratic rights and freedom of belief.
Putin’s argument that Russia is a secular state was already undermined by the recent trial of the punk band Pussy Riot. The jailing of the singers for protesting against Putin in the Moscow Church of the Redeemer was preceded by a months-long campaign to promote the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Kremlin has long maintained close relations with the Church, which in turn publicly supports Putin and is an important prop for his rule.