Muslim soldiers make up a fifth of the Russian Army, according to a recent state poll. An Islamic rights group wants to make sure those servicemen are able to perform their religious duties and receive halal meals.
The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, formed under the Russian Muslim Women’s Union, is also seeking to ensure that Muslim soldiers are safe from “bullying and hazing,” the committee’s leader, Nailya Ziganshina, said Monday “By setting up this committee, we wanted to also make our contribution to stability, to make the environment [in the Army] better with a mother’s love,” Ziganshina told RIA Novosti, adding that the group included both mothers and wives.
A government poll in February found that about 20 percent of soldiers in the Russian Army are Muslim, while 70 percent are Russian Orthodox.
The new Muslim committee is an analogue of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia, a non-government established in 1991 to protect the rights of conscripts, military personnel and their families. The committee has about 300 regional branches.
The Russian Muslim Women's Union was registered in February to promote traditional Islamic values, solve family problems and help Muslim women find jobs. The union has more than 50 regional branches Of Russia’s 143 million population, an estimated 12 to 15 percent is Muslim. That portion is expected to rise to 20 percent by the year 2020.