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Hotline For Muslim Women Opened in the Capital

Telephone hot-lines exist for people of the Orthodox faith in many regions of the country. Now the first Muslim hotline has been added, operating in Moscow. The female operators are ready to give fellow believers advice, offer them psychological support and supply them with the addresses of stores which sell Muslim clothing and Halal foods. Experts view the emergence of this hotline with doubt: Muslim women need to be helped, of course, but not over the phone; rather, in live contact. In Muslim associations it is considered that this �hot line� is profanation.

The possibility of having a Muslim hot-line was discussed directly after Orthodox lines began to appear, first in Nizhniy Novgorod, then in other cities. Last week, such a line for believers of Islam began in Moscow. The motto of the hot-line, created by the cultural-educational organization �Golubushka� is: �We are with you in order to help you�.

This support is offered only to women. It is understandable: according to experts, up to twenty thousand women adopt Islam every year in Moscow, two thirds of whom are ethnic Russians, not familiar with Muslim customs. Moreover, in Islamic countries, where similar such telephone lines exist, 70% of the callers are women, and four out of five questions are on the topics of family and marriage.

The Russian analogue, however, differs from the eastern service. There, callers are connected with an automatic answer: they ask a question and after a few hours, they will hear the recorded answer of an imam during the return call. In this case, all calls are paid for by the caller. The operators for the Moscow line are practicing specialists: doctors, psychologists, lawyers, and teachers, and they speak to callers for no cost. They take requests over the phone for leasing accommodations, job placement and people searches.

Operators work in three shifts: from nine in the morning until 9 at night. Another is on duty online. It is true that on weekends, telephones fall silent. In the future, however, hotlines need to operate around the clock. On this topic, telephones are not exactly ringing off the hook. In comparison, the Muslim hotline in Egypt receives 20 000 calls a day.

�Of course such a line is necessary�, Raisa Mordvinova, president of the �Women and Politics� fund told NI. �Muslim women, especially those who recently adopted Islam, need to be offered support which considers the special features of their religion. What is normal for European women is often inadmissible for Muslim women, and reverse. They cannot turn to regular consultants for support, which is why this kind of line will be essential in the future.�

In the capital�s Muslim diaspora, however, the innovation was received with doubt. �I think this is, in general, profanation�, the representative of the Islam Committee of Russia, Geidar Jemal told NI. �If in countries in the Arabic world such �hot-lines� are only one of the instruments of support for people, and not effective alone, then we have a similar service, in essence, imitating civil society. Let�s not forget that hot-lines in Russia are associated with authoritative structures; someone can think that you snitched on your neighbors. Even the function of psychologists (and psychologists in our country are on the wrong side of psychiatry) is not the same as clergymen who are capable of giving spiritual advice in any situation. So Muslims in the capital need to find actual help at home, from friends and at the mosque.�

Source: Noviye Izvestia

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