Do Azerbaijani school students need Islam in the curriculum?
Seven years ago, a demonstration took place in which no less than 1 000 people approached the Ministry of Education building in Baku.
Outraged and screaming religious slogans, they demanded that their daughters be allowed to wear a hijab in public schools. The demonstration was fiercely dispersed with, but afterwards the authorities gave permission for a hijab to be worn along with school uniforms.
This was seven years ago, when the then-Minister of Education, Misir Mardanov, came out against the wearing of a hijab in Azerbaijani schools. Despite the fact that three quarters of the population of Azerbaijan is made up of Muslim shi’ites, Azerbaijan’s constitution declares the country a secular state. Religious organizations are tightly controlled by the government, and the Azerbaijani authorities make sure to let everyone know that they won’t let ‘radical Islamism’ take root in the country.
In schools, religion is not taught as a separate subject, but rather a general, overall picture is given.
In оrder to find out how ordinary people relate to this question of teaching Islam in schools, JAMnews conducted a vox-pop survey on the streets of Baku. We asked: does Islam need to be taught in schools?