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Russian Dagestan temporarily bans wearing of niqabs after deadly shootings

CNN — (CNN) — Russia’s southernmost province of Dagestan has imposed 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.

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

The ban on the niqab will remain in effect until “the identified threats are removed and a new theological conclusion is reached,” Abdulla Salimov, deputy head of the mufti of Dagestan, said in a video message on Wednesday.

The assistant to the Mufti of Dagestan, Muhammad Muhammadov, told Russia’s EA Regnum news agency on Wednesday that “the ban applies to public places where security and personal identification are necessary,” such as streets, public institutions and other places where “large groups of people gather.”

“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 North Caucasus Muslim Coordinating Center issued a statement on Wednesday calling the wearing of the niqab, burqa and other outer garments that cover the face “harmful to Muslims and a threat to discord in interfaith and interethnic relations.”

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

Bastrykin blamed “Islamic 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 were “supporters of an international terrorist organization.”

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