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Kyrgyzstan Allows Head Scarves In Passport Photos

(RFE/RL) August 20, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have decided to allow Muslim women to be photographed for their passports wearing head scarves.

Jyldyz Akmatbekova, a lawyer at the State Agency for Information Resources and Technology, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service today that the Justice Ministry is drafting a new regulation reversing an earlier ban on head scarves in passport photos.

Jamal Frontbek-kyzy, the leader of a Kyrgyz Muslim women's nongovernmental organization, Mutakalim, told a press conference in Bishkek that the decision was made by a special interagency commission set up earlier this year to consider the issue.

The commission included officials from the State Agency for Information Resources and Technologies and the Justice, Interior, and Foreign ministries.

Frontbek-kyzy said 45,000 signatures have been collected from across the republic in support of the initiative.

It is unclear when the new regulation will go into effect.

Earlier this year, authorities in neighboring Kazakhstan made a similar ruling allowing women to be photographed with headwear for their identification documents.

(with material from agency reports)

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