It’s really something of a formality to ask at this point. As Human Rights Watch reported in November:
Chechen women have essentially become the target of a quasi-official “virtue” campaign. For several years, the Chechen authorities have discriminated against women who refuse to wear headscarves, prohibiting them from working in the public sector.
Chechnya’s own president has said that male relatives were right to shoot women with “loose morals.” Refusing to wear the hijab could put one’s life at risk, and it is more or less official (short of actual legislation that might catch Moscow’s eye) that the state will not care.
Obama spoke of a need to protect the rights of women who choose to wear the hijab. Where is he for the women who do not, like those in Chechnya who will now “choose” to throw a veil over their heads in the interest of keeping their heads attached to their necks?
“Russia’s Chechnya asks workers to wear Muslim dress,” from Reuters, February 18 (thanks to Twostellas):
Russia’s Chechnya region has asked state workers to dress conservatively, including headscarves for women and an Islamic dress code on Fridays, in its leaders’ latest assertion of Muslim customs.
A decade after Moscow drove separatists out of power in the second of two wars since the 1991 Soviet collapse, the Kremlin relies heavily on Chechnya’s strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov to keep insurgents in check and maintain a shaky peace.
Against the backdrop of a persistent Islamist insurgency in Chechnya and neighbouring parts of Russia’s mainly Muslim North Caucasus, regional leaders and rebel fighters alike have embraced an Islamic revival.
Kadyrov’s past efforts to enforce a dress code have angered rights activists who say such rules may violate Russia’s secular constitution.
Human Rights Watch: “Russian law guarantees all women, including those in Chechnya, the freedom to choose how they dress as part of their constitutional right to freedom of conscience, but to date the Kremlin has taken no action to put an end to this unwritten but unlawful policy in Chechnya.”
“We recommend that male state workers come to work in a suit and tie, and that women dress in a skirt below the knee and the appropriate headgear,” Chechen government deputy head Magomed Selimkhanov told reporters.
On Fridays — the main day for prayers in Islam — employees of both sexes should observe “a traditional Muslim dress code”, meaning covered arms and legs.
Selimkhanov said his “recommendation” was “purely advisory”. News agency Caucasian Knot reported that he had signed a document stating Muslim dress was “essential” for state workers.
Four years ago Kadyrov issued a “recommendation” that women don headscarves to enter state buildings. A spate of attacks last year on women for not wearing headscarves angered women who said being forced to dress a certain way violated their rights.
“This Islamic dress is part of a problem that has existed in Chechnya for some time now… Every year the Chechen authorities come up with something of this sort,” said Ruslan Badalov, a human rights activist who heads the Chechen Committee for National Salvation.
“It is a Caucasus tradition to look respectful in front of family but this should never be enforced,” he told Reuters. The Kremlin is warily watching the resurgence of Islam in Chechnya, which some analysts say is moving towards a push for autonomy once again.