Friday, June 15, 2018

Muslim Women Carving Out Their Own Safe Spaces in Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 15 – Muslim women in Moscow, both ethnic Russians who have accepted Islam and Muslims who have come from other parts of the country, say that the Russian capital now offers “many resources” for Muslim women to remain true to their faith and themselves and “’not suffer’” in the process.

            Yuiya Dzhalilova, a Nazaccent journalist, says that they say there are now numerous stories which sell only halal products, there are places near mosques where one can buy religious literature, and there are special private kindergartens for Muslim children, allowing them to live apart from others (

                Muslims in general and Muslim women in particular have carved out a space for themselves, she says. There are now even special lawyers who handle cases in which Muslims feel their rights have been violated.  Those who can afford it are sending their children to private Muslim schools; and others are now engaged in home schooling to avoid Russian public schools. 

            Moscow’s Muslim women, Dzhalilova says, have now created “their own public space, completely female” and completely Muslim.  And she provides in her article a map of these places in the Russian capital, places where even Muslims from Daghestan feel comfortable.  For them, as a result, “life in Moscow is no more difficult than life in Makhachkala.” 

            Significantly, these places are focal points for Muslims, even for those who do not live close by. But they are likely to become the sites around which Muslim neighborhoods will crystallize, leading to the appearance of religiously-defined ghettos that until now the Russian capital has avoided.

            What makes Dzhalilova’s article important in addition to the map is her implicit suggestion that it is going to be Muslim women rather than Muslim men who will be taking the lead in forming this new geography of the city. 

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