The case of a teenage girl who wants to wear her headscarf to school is creating waves in Macedonia, with educational authorities, local officials and teachers locked in a tug-of-war over religous freedom and the right to education.
The girl then complained to Tetovo mayor Hazbi Lika, who used his authority to sack Ismaili
But once the State Education Inspectorate reviewed the case, it ordered that Ismaili be reinstated immediately to his post, saying he was right to act in accordance with school regulations, passed by the parents' association, banning religious and national marks inside school building.
“If the mayor does not comply, we will take away his competence (to appoint and fire headmasters)” the head of the Inspectorate, Robert Georgiev, told local Vreme daily on Wednesday.
Macedonia's Tetovo area was the site of an uprising by the Albanian minority in 2001, and ethnic relations are still fragile. Almost all ethnic Macedonians are Orthodox Christians, and the 25-percent Albanian population is mostly Muslim, generally more devout than the highly secular Albanians in Kosovo and Albania proper.
The conservative VMRO DPMNE government introduced religious education in primary schools last years, creating controversy and attracting criticism by opposition parties and several local NGO’s.