Ukrainian Muslim woman contests right to be photographed in headscarf


The Kyiv District Administrative Court is hearing a case which could create a legal precedent. Susanna Ismailova from Bakhchysarai (the Crimea) is demanding that the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] allow her to have a passport photo taken in her hijab or Muslim headscarf.

In the suit, prepared in her name, the 25-year-old is asking the court to find the MIA Order No. 600 from 15 June 2006 in breach of Article 3 of the Law of Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, as well as Article 35 of the Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of worship.

MIA Order No. 600 is cited by staff of passport offices when refusing to allow Muslim women to have passport photos taken in the hijab.

The civil suit notes that staff of passport offices in the Crimea and other regions of Ukraine have sometimes agreed, despite the official instruction, to stick in photos taken in hijab. Susanna Ismailova herself, on coming of age, was permitted to have the photograph (almost certainly for her internal passport – translator] taken in her hijab. However 9 years later, when she need to stick a new, updated photo in the passport, the same department in Bakhchysarai refused to allow it in the hijab, citing the MIA Order.

Lawyer Enver Umerov, who is representing Susanna Ismailova, has told Crimean journalists that hundreds of Muslims who do not agree with the present procedure have said that they intend to join this suit. “At the present time there have been statements indicating the wish to join the suit from around 830 people in the Crimea and around 40 residents of Donetsk, Zaporizhya, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Luhansk.”

From a report at

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