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Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 03:01 GMT 04:01 UK
Tatar women in ID headscarf row
The women in the court
The women vowed to fight against the ban

A court in the Russian republic of Tatarstan on the Volga river has refused to allow Muslim women to wear headscarves on their passport photos.

The Tatar women in headscarves
Ethnic Tatars make up just over 50% of the republic
Three Muslim women appeared in court on Friday to protest against having to remove their traditional headwear on official ID cards.

"It is Islamophobia that moves our officials to refuse our women such an elementary right," said Walliulla Yakupov of the Tatar Islamic Administration.

After the verdict the women said their human rights have been violated and vowed to fight on.

Islam renaissance

The three women filed suits after the local passport agency refused to accept their applications on the grounds that their photos did not meet the required standards.

The women argued that forcing them to remove their scarves was an insult to their dignity.

Islamic custom, which is experiencing a renaissance in Tatarstan, requires women to cover their heads in public.

A representative of the passport agency told the court that a headscarf makes identification difficult.

But a forensic expert summoned by the court stated that a headscarf did not interfere with proper identification.

The women appeared to be winning the argument and there was a sense of bewilderment in the packed courtroom when the judge ruled against them.

The women vowed to take their case to the Russian Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights.

See also:

04 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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