Ukrainian Muslim woman loses court battle for the right to be photographed in headscarf

Publication Date: 
July 6, 2010

The Kyiv District Administrative Court has rejected the suit brought on behalf of 25-year-old Susanna Ismailova from Bakhchysarai (the Crimea). She had asked the court to order the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] to allow her to have a passport photo taken in her hijab or Muslim headscarf.

The court deemed that Ms Ismailova’s rights were not restricted by the insistence that she be photographed without the scarf.

Ms Ismailova expressed her disappointment and explained that her present passport (an internal passport / identification document – translator] was no longer valid since there was no second photo as required on turning 25. This prevents her from receiving benefit for her children, however she is not prepared to get a photograph without her scarf, this being against her religious beliefs.

Her lawyer, Enver Umerov, has announced that he is preparing to appeal the ruling.
The court had been asked to find that the procedure for getting a passport, as per MIA Order No. 600 from 15 June 2006 which made it impossible for her to be photographed in her hijabi was 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.