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Niqab ‘temporarily’ banned in Russia’s Dagestan

Debate over the Muslim garment that covers all but a woman’s eyes has intensified following last month’s terrorist attack in the republic

Islamic authorities in Russia’s Dagestan Republic have decreed a temporary ban on the wearing of the niqab by women. The local secular government had raised the issue in the wake of a deadly terrorist attack late last month.

The niqab is a type of Muslim garment that covers a woman’s entire face, leaving an opening for the eyes only. While its proponents argue that the headdress is in line with the Quran’s requirements, it is not universally accepted across the Muslim world.

In an speech posted on the Muftiate’s Telegram channel on Wednesday, Dagestan Deputy Head Mufti Abdulla Salimov said that the religious leadership had considered an “appeal by the national policy and religion ministry, which notified us of the existing threat to the security of the republic’s population.”

Salimov went on to announce that the Muftiate had imposed a “temporary ban on the wearing of niqabs until the uncovered threats are eliminated, and a new clerical ruling has been issued.”

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The religious leader also noted that reports previously carried by several media outlets appear to have misinterpreted the Muftiate’s decision.

On Tuesday, Akhmed-Khadzhi Isaev, the head of the fatwa department, pointed out that there is no general consensus among Muslim scholars as to whether women should wear niqabs or not.

He stated that upon meticulous study of relevant religious literature, the fatwa department of the Dagestan Muftiate “does not see sufficient grounds to pass a ruling on a universal ban on the niqab.”

“However, it is worth noting, that in certain situations a local ban… can be imposed for security reasons,” Isaev said. The cleric emphasized that such restrictions should be strictly temporary in nature.

Late last month Dagestan Governor Sergey Melikov spoke in favor of banning the niqab, arguing that the headdress is “not typical for the peoples of the Caucasus.”

He said that the niqab also “allows men to hide behind these veils, and women to carry prohibited items behind them.”

Similar statements were made in May by Valery Fadeev, the head of Russia’s Human Rights Council, but faced pushback from Moscow’s chief mufti, Ildar Alyautdinov. The cleric argued that Russian Muslims would only accept a ban if authorities were able to prove a direct connection between wearing the garment and security risks.

The latest public debate over the niqab in Dagestan follows a terrorist attack by several groups of gunmen in the region on June 23. The assailants targeted an Orthodox church and a synagogue. The terrorists were killed in ensuing firefights with police and security forces. The death toll reached 20 people, including a dozen police officers, with 40 people sustaining injuries.

Russian authorities have launched criminal investigations into terrorism and illegal possession of firearms in the wake of the attack.

July 03, 2024 at 03:22PM

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