During a recent visit to the capital of the Tatarstan Republic, Vladimir Putin set out his opinion regarding Muslim women’s passport photographs. They want to get official permission to be photographed wearing headscarves, according to their traditions. Vladimir Putin did not approve of the idea, “They have this fashion today, tomorrow the fashion will change. What if she needs to go abroad?”
Apparently, the people of Tatarstan did not understand the Russian president. According to the information from the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Muslim women have been picketing the building of the municipal administration in the town of Nizhnekamsk for several days. Protests were also conducted in other cities of Tatarstan as well. Muslim women and leaders of Muslim religious organizations of Tatarstan issued an official address to President Putin and to the speaker of the Russian parliament, Gennady Seleznyov. Muslim women want a public apology from the government for the humiliation that they have to go through. They also want permission to take passport photographs according to their traditions. Muslim women need to wear headscarves for that. They claim that current policies are an obstacle to the revival of Islam.
The Muslims of Tatarstan are determined to file a complaint to the Russian Supreme Court. They even threatened to refuse Russian citizenship if their demands are ignored.
It does not really matter if this “passport movement” in Tatarstan is strong at the moment or not. So far, the activists have lost all their attempts to institute criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court of Tatarstan has recently dismissed their appeal as well. However, it should be mentioned that passport photographs of women wearing headscarves will definitely be a negative phenomenon for the state.
It seems that Putin is acting like a true diplomat in this respect, he does not say directly what he thinks on the problem, instead he talks about fashion. It would be very naive to think that a right to make such passport photographs is absolutely harmless to the security of Russia.
They say that anti-Russian people of Tatarstan already perceive that permission as their first step to separate from Russia. Headscarves are not that important, really. It is much more important to show, how they gradually move away from Russian laws and regulations. They want to emphasize Islam as the major religion.
One may assume that indulging those requirements will cause a chain reaction in other Muslim parts of Russia. Statements like “We want to wear paranjas on passport photographs!” will give even more incentive to separatist sentiments in the country.