Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Russia's Chechnya imposes Islamic dress code

Chechnya's President Ramzan Kadyrov in Gudermes in this April 5, 2007 file photo.

GROZNY, Russia (Reuters) - Female civil servants must wear Islamic headscarves or be fired, the maverick head of Russia's Chechnya region said on Tuesday, an edict that may put him at odds with his secular masters in Moscow.

The Kremlin installed 30-year-old Ramzan Kadyrov as Chechnya's president to crush a decade-old separatist insurgency, but some observers say he has turned the region into a private fiefdom where Russian laws are flouted.

Russian law separates the state from religion and gives both sexes equal rights. But Kadyrov, who this year made a pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, said Chechnya had different traditions.

"I know everyone will say, 'Ramzan declares (rigid Islamic) sharia law'. But I reply that I am a Muslim, I respect Chechen traditions, and I am proud of this," Kadyrov, son of a Muslim cleric, told a meeting of local officials.

"I repeat once again -- women must either wear headscarves, or they should not work (for state institutions)," he said. "You may say I make unlawful statements, but I will not back down."

Entire article here.

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