Professor Vyacheslav Babourin, head of the Department of Economic and Social Geography, has reportedly attempted to pressure a Jewish student into removing his yarmulke.
Professor Babourin reportedly refused to allow the Jewish student to sit an examination unless he removed his ritual head covering in what has been described as “blatant antisemitism” by Jewish groups in Russia.
The Professor gave the student the choice of removing his yarmulke or leaving the examination room, citing a rule against wearing any headgear.
Barbourin defended his behaviour, saying “Like at any other institution of learning, the university has its charter, in which, among other things, the accepted form of clothing is defined. I quite reasonably pointed out to the young man that he violated the charter and that he should bring his clothing to the requirements of the university, and then he can take the exam. I do not care who he is—a Jew, a Muslim, Buddhist or Sikh, whoever. I am a professor at Moscow University. I follow the charter and orders of my university”.
Professor Sergei Dobrolyubov, the faculty’s dean, also defended Babourin.
Levi Boroda filed a complaint and was allowed to sit the exam later that day. The student posted about the incident on his Facebook account, writing:
“Moscow State University—the best college in the state?…Discrimination on the basis of nationality, a direct violation of Article 136 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, is punishable [by] imprisonment. It’s strange that the best university did not take this [fact] into the account. Can you help? Write #MoscowStateUniversity #Sadovnichiy #JewsinMSU #antisemitism”
Russian Jewish Congress President Yury Kanner commented:
“A university professor must know that a yarmulke is a ritual headgear. And if he does not know this, he must sweep streets, but not be a professor of the Moscow State University. Because this is a manifestation of anti-Semitism. [It] is criminally punishable in Russia. If this is framed into the internal charter of the university—this is the problem of the university”