Tatarstan singer’s mosque dance may be out of step with Russian law

23 September 2016

State authorities in the Russian region of Tatarstan have launched a preliminary criminal case against singer Rezeda Ganiullina — eyebrows were raised by her potentially offensive dance outside a mosque. But did anyone spare a thought for the camel?

Ganiullina released a music video yesterday in which she dances and rides a camel (seemingly not for any transport purposes) scantily clad outside the White Mosque in Bolgar, a city around 200 kilometers south of the Tatar capital Kazan.

“Due to the fact that the woman’s actions might contain signs of a crime, as classified under Article 148 of the Russian Criminal Code (offences against freedom of conscience and religion), a pre-investigation check is underway,” a spokesperson for the regional investigative committee told the Interfax news agency.

Religious leaders have also expressed anger. The chief mufti of Tatarstan, Kamil hazrat Samigullin, was quick to condemn the music video, arguing that “a mosque is not a place for dancing.”

Ganiullina has apologised to those who might be offended by her dancing, but stresses that the dances are simply a part of her work as a singer. “This is my stage persona,” she explained. “Oriental dances are my style — they’re my speciality,” she wrote on social media.

If found guilty of a crime, Ganiullina will not be the first to fall foul of the law regarding offences against religion.

In August 2012, Pussy Riot band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Maria Alyokhina were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” in August 2012 after their performance at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour — within a year of this high-profile case, Russian lawmakers passed legislation against actions deemed to offend religious sensibilities.

Most recently, Ruslan Sokolovsky, a Yekaterinburg-based blogger, was detained on charges of extremism after publishing a video showing him playing Pokémon GO inside a cathedral. He has since been released.

Source: The Moscow Times