University in Russia's North Caucasus bans Muslim headscarves

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PYATIGORSK. December 23. KAZINFORM One of the largest universities in Russia's predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region has moved to introduce a modest, secular dress-code, the university's rector said. Kazinform refers to RIA Novosti.

The board of Pyatigorsk State Linguistic University (PGLU) has banned both students and professors from wearing hijabs - headscarves worn by many Muslim women - and revealing clothes, and from having body piercings, rector Alexander Gorbunov said.

"We will order university guards to not admit students and professors with extreme [appearances], for example barefoot, with naked midriffs, with piercings or with aggressive religious attributes, to the university," Gorbunov said after a meeting involving university students and local police.

PGLU is a secular educational institution whose students should wear modest, secular clothes, he said.

Radical Islamic movements originating in the volatile North Caucasus have become an issue of concern for the federal authorities who have been fighting militants in the region for two decades.

Russia's chief Mufti Ravil Gainutdin said on Tuesday that followers of Islam in Russia have no complaints about their treatment by the authorities, who treat them "with great respect."

"Russia's multimillion Islamic community can have no claims toward the current authorities because our rights are not being suppressed," he said. "We live in a free, democratic country."

A recent outbreak of racially motivated violence has brought inter-ethnic relations to the fore in Russia, with both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stressing the multicultural nature of Russian society. RIA Novosti. See www.en.rian.ru

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