The Kyrgyz Ministry of Education has imposed a ban on the wearing of headscarves to school. The move, the Ministry says, is needed to ensure a secular learning environment and to limit the influence of extremist movements.
Human rights ombudsman, Tursunbek Akun, and others warn the ban contravenes principles of religious freedom guaranteed under the country's Constitution. According to the Ministry, the ban was enacted to "suppress religious and extremist phenomena." Schools have also been instructed to monitor students for evidence of "the influence of religious extremism" and to watch the attendance of students who miss Friday lessons due to religious commitments, or who are known to visit mosques, the Kyrgyz news agency AKIpress reported March 3.
The right to religious freedom has increasingly come under attack in Kyrgyzstan, according to domestic and international rights activists. In January, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed a law banning proselytism, private religious education, and the import or dissemination of religious literature. The law also requires that all religious communities register with the state.