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Conservative Islam spreads in Chechnya

Mikhail Mordasov / AFP - Getty Images

Headscarf-wearing female students attend classes at the Grozny State Oil Institute in the capital of the Russian Caucasus region of Chechnya on March 21. Chechnya's Kremlin-appointed leader Ramzan Kadyrov, 34, has been quietly allowed to de-secularise his Muslim majority homeland. His hugely controversial decree tells female public servants how to dress in an Islamically-acceptable way at work, stating that women's heads should be covered with a headscarf.

Vladimir Isachenkov of AP reports from Grozny: The cars pull up in broad daylight. Security forces point guns at terrified women and shoot. It turns out they're paintball pellets, but still harsh punishment in Chechnya for leaving home without a headscarf.

Chechnya's strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has imposed an Islamic dress code on women, and his feared security forces have used paintball guns, threats and insults against those refusing to obey. In a 40-page report released earlier this month, Human Rights Watch condemned the campaign as a flagrant violation of women's rights and urged other nations to raise the issue with Moscow.

"The enforcement of a compulsory Islamic dress code on women in Chechnya violates their rights to private life, personal autonomy, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion, thought, and conscience," the report said. Continue reading.