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 - War On Hijab

    Kosovo PM Urged to Drop Hijab Ban

    PRISTINA. Kosovo's independent ombudsman on Wednesday, September 26, pleaded with Prime Minister Agim Ceku to scrap a ban on the wearing of hijab in schools, few days after the expulsion of three students for wearing the Muslim headscarf. "Students should not be deprived of the right to wear religious symbols as headscarves," Hilmi Jashari said in a public letter to Ceku and Education Minister Agim Veliu, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

    "I ask you to undertake urgent steps in solving this issue," Jashari wrote.

    Last week, three girls were expelled from their schools in Skenderaj, northwest of Pristina, for wearing hijab.

    Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.

    The Ombudsman Institution in Kosovo (OIK) is an independent organization with a mandate to address alleged human rights violations or abuses of authority by public institutions.

    It carries out investigations and issues reports.

    Basic Right

    Jashari said the right to practice religion is enshrined in the European Convention for Human Rights.

    This right could not be prevented by executive orders, he said.

    "Wearing headscarves is a symbol of presenting of someone's belief," added Jashari.

    In 2004, France banned the wearing of the hijab at public schools and institutions.

    Since then the issue of hijab has been thrust into the limelight with many Western European countries following suit.

    Islam is the official religion of Kosovo, which is seeking independence from Serbia, with Muslims making up more than 95 percent of the population.

    Observers consider the ban on hijab in schools in Kosovo as a measure to limit a stronger Muslim identity in the UN-administered province.

    Kosovo has been run by a UN mission since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign halted civilian killings and ethnic cleansing by Serbian troops in the province.

    Its status is one of the last disputes remaining from the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the creation of a number of new independent states in the Balkans.

    Source: IslamOnline

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