Russia allows Muslim women to wear headscarves in passport photographs

Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov has today signed an order allowing Muslim women to be photographed for their passports wearing a veil. The order has also been registered with the Justice Ministry today. According to the Interior Ministry's press office, individuals and organisations have made numerous appeals to the ministry for Muslim women to be allowed on religious grounds to be photographed for their passports wearing headscarves. Interior Ministry officials say that Russian law does not make it clear whether such photographs are permitted on official documents. Consequently, the matter was examined by various courts, which reached contradictory decisions.

Boris Gryzlov held a meeting on May 31 with top officials from the ministry at which it was decided to 'allow the use of photographs in headscarves that do not cover the face of person who, due to religious beliefs, cannot be seen uncovered by strangers.' According to the press office, the minister stressed that 'Russia's further development as a multi-faith country, and the construction of a state based on the rule of law and a civil society require human rights to be fully observed, in this case freedom of religious beliefs.'

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