Russia’s Dagestan temporarily bans wearing niqabs following deadly shootings

Russia’s southernmost Dagestan province has announced a temporary ban on the wearing of niqabs, a full-face veil with an opening for the eyes, as a security measure following deadly attacks by gunmen last month.

Gunmen opened fire at multiple places of worship and a police traffic stop in two cities in the Muslim-majority republic on June 23, killing at least 15 police officers and at least four civilians, including an Orthodox priest, according to authorities.

The niqab ban is to take place until “the identified threats are eliminated and a new theological conclusion is issued,” deputy head of the Mufti of Dagestan Abdulla Salimov said in a video message Wednesday.

Assistant to the Mufti of Dagestan Muhammad Muhammadov told the Russian news agency EA Regnum on Wednesday that “the ban applies in public places where security and personal identification are necessary,” such as streets, public institutions, and other places where there are “large gatherings of people.”

“The Muftiyat’s recommendation is aimed at preventing potential threats and maintaining public order. The duration of the ban depends on the development of the situation in the region,” he said.

The Coordination Center of Muslims of the North Caucasus issued a statement on Wednesday in which it called the wearing of the niqab, burqa and other outer garments that cover the face “harmful to Muslims, threatening discord in inter-religious and interethnic relations.”

Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee of Russia, called on lawmakers to “urgently” ban the wearing of niqabs in Russia on Saturday.

Bastrykin blamed “Islamist terrorists” for the deadly shooting in Dagestan.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, but law enforcement agencies told Russian state media TASS that the attackers are “adherents of an international terrorist organization.”

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