It’s Easier To Wear The Hijab In Moscow Than In St. Petersburg Or Kazan, Muslim Residents Say


Muslim women say it is easier for them to wear the hijab in the Russian capital than in St. Petersburg where there are few Muslims or in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, where the hijab is viewed by many as a foreign import rather than part of the national tradition.

 Katyra Dikova of the Muslim feminist site Daptar spoke with four Muslim Muscovites who said that with only rare exceptions residents of the Russian capital either ignore their special form of dress or even view it with interest and express curiosity about Islam and Islamic traditions (

Karolina Pavlovskaya, who has worked in the capital as a stylist for many years, originally feared she would lose work if she began wearing the hijab. But that hasn’t happened. Only once did something untoward happen when the police harassed her. She was ready to give up wearing this Muslim headgear but was persuaded to continue. She’s had no problems since.

A second Muslim Muscovite, Elvina, who did not give her last name, says she has been wearing the hijab only a few months, has had no problems because of it, and thinks the reason is that there are lots of Muslims in the capital and people have gotten used to the idea. Any discrimination she is victim of is only what “anyone with a non-Slavic visage” gets.

A third Muslim, Bella, says she started wearing the hijab when the pandemic began. Because so many were covering their faces to protect against covid, few have taken notice of her doing so. She said that the only time she has had difficulties is when she has travelled to St. Petersburg which has fewer Muslims and is less comfortable with them.

And a fourth, “N,” says the pandemic has had another impact on her. She only wears her hijab when she is not wearing a mask. She adds that she is more aware of the boorish behavior of people from Central Asia who make assumptions about her when they see she is a Muslim because of her headgear.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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