December 30, 2010

AZERBAIJAN: Feud over ban on Islamic head scarves fuels fears of Iranian meddling from Babylon & Beyond

Babylon and Beyond: AZERBAIJAN: Feud over ban on Islamic head scarves fuels fears of Iranian meddling -

A full-blown ideological war appears to have erupted between Iran and the secular government in neighboring Azerbaijan after Baku earlier this year banned the wearing of Islamic head scarves, or hijabs, at schools in the Caucasus nation by introducing a standard school uniform that prohibits traditional Islamic dress.

Conservative clerics in the Islamic Republic have publicly and repeatedly slammed the decision and warned Azerbaijani authorities that they're heading down a slippery slope by prohibiting schoolgirls from wearing hijabs in the classroom in the Shiite Muslim-majority nation whose citizens maintain strong ties to co-religionists and fellow ethnic Azeris in Iran.

"An ideological revolution has been staged in the republic of Azerbaijan, and this country will become one of the religious centers in the future," said a cleric named Foruqi during Friday prayers in the ethnic Azeri city of Ardabil in Iran, according to state television. "And this is the issue that scares the enemies."
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