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Liliya Karimova: A Tatar's Exploration of Identity

One of the most captivating images in the city of Kazan, Russia, is the Kazan Kremlin. A majestic tower topped with a crescent -- the symbol of Islam -- stands alongside a Russian Orthodox cathedral. The juxtaposition of these two religious structures is emblematic of the city.

Kazan is the capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, and was once the center of the glorious Muslim state Volga Bulgaria. The city was conquered by Tsar Ivan the Terrible in 1552 and the area has been under Russian rule ever since.

Liliya Karimova is a young Tatar from Kazan. Now a graduate student in Kansas, she has struggled to understand her identity and background.

Although Karimova's family is Muslim, her upbringing was secular. Like other Soviet citizens, their main culture was Russian and communist. The native language of Tatarstan is Tatar, but as the language was discouraged -- or, in some cases, forbidden -- under Soviet Russia, Karimova never learned to speak it.

Today, she has many questions about her ethnicity and religion. But as she has learned from other Tatars, there are no set answers. Karimova shares her story.

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