Nadezhda Kevorkova about veil scandal: ''Tatar community’s reaction to government's pressure is right''

The expert expressed her opinion on the difficult situation in Mordovia and in the Tatar community

Nadezhda Kevorkova about veil scandal: ''Tatar community’s reaction to government's pressure is right'' Photo: afon-ru.com

Another scandal broke in Mordovia connected with the ban on wearing hijab in educational institutions. This time the students of the pedagogical institute named after Evsevyev are threatened to be expelled for wearing religious clothing. The Minister of Education of the Russian Federation Olga Vasilyeva commented on the situation in the Republic. Hijab has no place in school, says the minister. The journalist specializing in the Middle East Nadezhda Kevorkova expressed her point of view on this issue in the interview with Realnoe Vremya.

''It would be better if they just said that all Muslims should be outlawed?''

Ms Kevorkova, how did you react to the news that another school of Mordovia has banned wearing hijab? The students from the local university are not even admitted to exams and lessons.

A similar instance took place not only in Mordovia. The same thing happened in Moscow in a medical institute. The female students were banned to attend lessons, but this situation has been resolved.

Of course, it is a serious problem. And the issue is not only in the local tyrants — any official at any level has their finger on the pulse and catches the general trend.

What for did the institute impose such restrictions? What does that say about the university?

We can shrug and be indignant, but you should understand: we have been living for 20 years in the country where there were two Chechen wars, where on the territory of the whole Republic there are constant purges, where every Friday there are arrests, detentions, mandatory fingerprinting. This is a tendency, and not Russian, it is worldwide. Islamophobia is an essential element of world politics. And here, in Mordovia, the main political trend has appeared — the anti-systemic element has been vigilantly revealed.

By the way, the author of the post on Facebook claims that girls are accused that they oppose the state. What do you think about this statement?

Imagine you are an official, you are ordered to intimidate a certain group, well organized and competent. It is easy to accuse them of anti-state intent. No official will be punished for protecting the state, right? An army of experts is prepare arguments to justify their actions, their alleged anxiety, their so-called activities to be in advance of extremism.

Everyone understands that students in veils are not conspirators.

Would it be better if they just said that all Muslims should be outlawed? And that all Muslims are potential ISIS (banned organization in Russia — editor's note)? They are two steps away from having to start to claim this.

A similar instance took place not only in Mordovia. <…> The thing is not only in the local tyrants — any official at any level has their finger on the pulse and catches the general trend. Photo: life.ru

''We can talk a lot about the Constitution, but is this the only moment where it is not respected?''

In order to justify the ban, the University administration refers to a internal document, but isn't it the contradiction of the Constitution?

In fact, the pecularity of this situation is that the women have been put at risk. But it's one thing when you see on TV how 10 healthy men are laid on the ground and a voice over says that they are recruiters in ISIS. Another thing is when the students in hijab, cute and helpless, are charged that they are against the state just because they dressed this way. In our country many women watch TV, most active people in this country are the women, and the women's solidarity works. That is why it is very stupid, unpopular measure, and they will definitely stumble over it.

But what should the students do in this case? Some people advise them to leave the university.

Every girl has a family, and they will do as her parents or husband tell her. In any case, Muslims should not give up studying. They should master the education. And the trend is that they want to isolate the Muslims from higher and good education. Thank God we live in the Internet age. There are many forms of education — remote, virtual, private institutions abroad. You can study in the best universities of the world. Therefore, I believe that this is not a tragedy, and we need to look for other forms. The main thing is that these should not give up studying, especially if they study such useful professions, like medicine, science or engineering.

The Minister of Education Olga Vasilyeva commented on the situation in Belozerye, saying that ''the veils have no place in school''. Also, in her opinion, ''the true believers do not seek to emphasize the attributes of his faith''...

The Minister of Education, even expressing a personal opinion, broadcasts the general sentiments in the government. The reality is that in Dagestan and Chechnya, in the old believers' villages, all the women have always worn veils, they did even during the most severe years of the Soviet persecution. The fight against women's veils is a hopeless act. Most importantly, this struggle puts Russia next not to elegant France and the enlightened West, as many people would think, but to a despotic Turkey, the times of Ataturk and the massive persecution of religion.

''The Minister of Education, even expressing a personal opinion, broadcasts the general sentiments in the government.'' Photo: ntv.ru

Will the federal centre resolve to ban veils in schools? I don't think so, then we will have to deal with Chechnya and Ramzan Kadyrov, around which all women, starting from the kindergarten age, in a strict hijab. Doesn't the state want the Muslim girls to go to the school? In other case, the Muslims will establish their own schools and universities, virtual ones, not connected with the state.

''Anti-Islamic pressure is the world tendency''

Ms Kevorkova, the media assumes that the prohibition in Mordovia has been introduced in order to prevent extremism on the eve of 2018 FIFA World Cup. How viable is this explanation?

Oh, this eagerness of the expert community to give as many original theories of absolutely clear trends, which takes place not only in Mordovia… Why multiply entities? The World Cup will pass, and what next? Will the situation change dramatically? Of course, not. This is just a diverting of the public attention from serious problems to finding some fleas in a small Mordovia, which is allegedly suffering from the upcoming World Cup. Let's even say that Mordovia is a republic, where the majority of the population is sitting in the camps, and the rest of them protects and serves those who protect. Anti-Islamic pressure is the world tendency; it goes against Muslims everywhere. The fight with hijab is just a small but highly visible part of the front.

In the 2000s, there was a story with Kazan Muslim women, who through the court tried to seek permission to be photographed for documents in hijab. In your opinion, why are the representatives of the Ministry of Interior Affairs did not want to concede?

The main thing is that Tatar activists have won and created a precedent. In general, we need to understand that it is the nature of the state and of the bureaucracy. It makes up the rules and it wants to make people to live under these rules. The act of coercion is important, no matter for what. The main thing is to subdue people to their will. It is prescribes to fight for the faith.

''Anti-Islamic pressure is the world tendency; it goes against Muslims everywhere. The fight with hijab is just a small but highly visible part of the front.'' Photo: vk.com

''The victory will belong to the community of the believers''

In your opinion, why the Congress of Tatars, that, as a rule, remained silent on such reason, decided to designate its opposition to the ban?

Shaimiev, who remains the brain center of the Tatar community, very properly builds up a system of signals that he sends to the federal center. The center does not want to renew the contract, does not want to leave Tatarstan those preferences, which it won in the 1990s and 2000s. Therefore, the Tatar community responds to the government's pressure rightly. They resist the pressure, not meekly accept it. They do it right.

You know, it is very difficult to fault people who stand up for these women who have full right to walk in the clothes that they see fit, with the right to religion, right to education. And they want to break their rights on stupid pretexts. All the people who stand up for these girls are on the right side and, accordingly, feel that that they have an advantage. And the power in this case (local or federal) is not right. And it will be forced to make excuses and retreat.

At the same time, some activists of the Russian Orthodox Church are on the side of the girls. In other words, the Orthodox have similar views. However, another part of the clergy says that it is necessary in the name of peace to accept and to waive the requirements of religion...

It is a matter of conscience of those people who say such things. I don't know for what else they are going to abandon religion. Well, let them refuse, but why do they dictate to other people how to do? It is not easy to prove that veil on the woman's head threatens peace in Mordovia.

The Christians of the first centuries went to their deaths for the sake of their religion, they never refused. The founder of Christianity said, ''I came not to bring peace, but a sword''. Probably, those calling to abandon the faith for the sake of peace have some other religion, not one that of Christ…

By Lina Sarimova