Who Cares About Putin When You Have Islam?

By Elektra Kotsoni

The Russian republic of Chechnya has been undergoing an Islamic revival. Having existed under Soviet rule for 70 years before getting caught up in a war with the Russian Federation that lasted almost two decades, the tiny state has turned to Islam in what looks to be an attempt to maintain some semblance of identity and drive a wedge between itself and the land of Putin. The Chechen government is building mosques in every village, prayer rooms in public schools, and enforcing a stricter Islamic dress code for both men and women. It might be miles away from Islamabad, but Chechnya's gone Islamamad.

For young women in particular, this has led to a change in what they can expect to do with their lives. Smoking, for instance, is definitely a good reason to spend a night in jail, while premarital sex must seem less attractive when the president of your country has given his public approval to any family who feels like carrying out an honor killing.

Photographer Diana Markosian spent some time in the area getting to know a group of Muslim girls who grew up during the wars, chronicling their coming of age in a region that is rapidly redefining itself as an Islamic state.

See more of Diana's work here.

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