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MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday waded into a controversial debate over a hijab ban at a Russian school, saying that the country’s secular nature should prevail over religious feelings.

“We must always treat the religious feelings of people with great respect.

That must be shown in the state’s activities, in the nuances, in everything,” Putin told supporters, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

“Secondly we have a secular state and we must proceed from this basis,” he added, after being asked for his view on the case of a school in southern Russia that banned girls from wearing the Islamic headscarf.

Russian state media interpreted Putin’s ambiguous comments as expressing his backing for a hijab ban.—AFP

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