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Headscarf ban in West Kazakhstan prevents girl from entering school 27 октября 2014, 18:10

A six-year old girl in West Kazakhstan cannot go to school because of the ban on headwear in the school's charter. Parents of the girl filed a lawsuit citing the Constitution but lost. They are going to appeal.
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Photo courtesy of nadezhda.kz Photo courtesy of nadezhda.kz

Burlin District Court of West Kazakhstan Oblast has forbade a six year old girl to wear a headscarf in school.

Because of the ban, Bilkiz Kenzhegaliyeva is unable to go to school for a second year in a row, Tengrinews reports citing Moi Gorod.

The charter of the Public School №3, where Kenzhegaliyev family intended their daughter to be enrolled in an academic preparatory grade, has a ban on wearing headwear in the institution.

The parents of the girl say that according to Sharia their daughter has to wear a headscarf. They decided to go to court to prove that their daughter was being discriminated by the school administration based on her religious beliefs.

They have already lost several cases. On Tuesday last week their claim was once again rejected by the court.

During the last court hearing the girl's father - Azamat Kenzhegaliyev - argued that women professing Islam had to cover their heads regardless of their age. Bilkiz’s example is her mother, who also wears a headscarf.

"How does the headdress disturb anyone? What does it violate? Doesn’t our Constitution provide for secondary education for every citizen of Kazakhstan, regardless of his or her affiliation to any religion or ethnicity? This is in violation of the Constitution!” the plaintiff’s representative in court Mirzhan Gabdullin said. “And why did the provision on banning headwear appear in the school charter right at the time when Bilkiz came to school?"

The principal of the school Nadezhda Shiganakova denied any discrimination against the girl. She stressed that the school was a secular institution and necessitated compliance with its rules.

She said that the ban was introduced after a series of discussions with teachers, students and their parents. Moreover, changes to the Charter have to be approved by the Akimat (local administrative body) and the District Department of Education.

Indeed, the amendment was included in one of the paragraphs of the Charter in November 2013. But it was done legally and in agreement with all the involved parties. The principal’s words were supported by the local officials.

"A compromise could have been reached: since the girl is from a religious family, she could wear a scarf at home and out in the street when she is outside of school and enter the school in a proper way. There is a similar example in one of Aksai [a town in West Kazakhstan Oblast] schools. As for the claim that girl cannot get a secondary education supposedly because of the obstruction from the school administration, I want to remind you that the preparatory grade is part of pre-school education that a child can receive at home," the principal said in court.

After hearing the arguments of both sides Judge Larisa Shamgunova sided with the school principal.

The plaintiff promised to appeal the decision.

By Dinara Urazova 

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