Thousands protest in Kosovo against hijab ban

Kosovo govt bans pupils from wearing hijab in schools


Around 5,000 people protested in Kosovo on Friday against a government decision to ban pupils from wearing Muslim headscarves (hijab) in public schools.

Around 90 percent of Kosovo's population are Muslims but the former Serbian province, which declared independence in 2008, remains a largely secular country.

Protesters, who came to the capital from all over the country, urged the government to withdraw its decision and not to "discriminate against Muslims."

"We will continue the protests until they will allow our daughters to go to school with headscarves," said organizer Halil Kastrati.

Angry protesters with banners that read "Don't use our state against us" and "Communism is over" marched to the ministry of education, which had approved the ban.

"This is not a uniform but my religious obligation. I respect my religion but I also want to go to my faculty," said student Fitore Abazi.

Kosovo has so far been recognized by 69 countries, mainly in Western Europe, the United States and a few Muslim countries, but has not become a member of the United Nations. Serbia opposes its independence and has filed a suit to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.