Yes, Armenia is safe for Muslim travelers. Overall crime rate is quite low, and OSCE reports a very low rate of hate crime in Armenia, as well as non-existent crime on religious or ethnic grounds. Muslim women can safely wear hijab and other head coverings.
Armenia is a Christian country, and it truly prides itself on its Christian heritage. However, Armenians also have a very long history of living side-by-side with Muslims across the Islamic world. There are significant Armenian communities in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and even in Turkey, despite the troubling history between these two nations.
Moreover, the growing number of travelers from the Arab world visiting Armenia in recent years, proves that Armenians really don’t have an issue with Islam. But I don’t want to just list unfounded claims. So, let’s see what the numbers say. And if you are a Muslim tourist in Armenia, share your experiences with me on Instagram or Twitter, with #ArmeniaTravelTips. First-hand insights are the best!
Is Armenia a safe country overall?
Yes, Armenia is a very safe country. The crime rates are very low overall, including a rather neglectable likelihood of facing violent crime or being robbed or attacked. The chances of things being stolen from cars and homes being broken into are also low.
As I wrote in another post on general safety in my county, overall Armenia is a quite safe travel destination. But let’s look into a bit more detailed breakdown. I decided to use Numbeo to compare Yerevan to Vienna. Why? Well, Vienna is one of the most favorite shopping destinations of Arab travelers in Europe, and in the past years, it consistently ranked in the top 5 most livable cities according to The Economist.
|Vienna – rating
|Vienna – score
|Yerevan – rating
|Yerevan – score
|Level of crime
|Crime increasing in the past 3 years
|Worries home broken and things stolen
|Worries being mugged or robbed
|Worries car stolen
|Worries things from car stolen
|Worries being insulted
|Worries being subject to a physical attack because of your skin color, ethnic origin, gender, or religion
|Problem people using or dealing drugs
|Problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft
|Problem violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery
|Problem corruption and bribery
This data clearly shows that in many ways the crime rates in Yerevan are even lower than in Vienna. Yerevan just like Vienna has also a low rating in terms of the likelihood of being subject to a physical attack because of your skin color, ethnic origin, gender, or religion. Fewer problems were reported in Yerevan than in Vienna in terms of problems of property crimes such as vandalism and theft. A similar low rating is reported in terms of assault and armed robbery.
You might argue that Numbeo is not an official source, although I believe that since it’s sourced from regular people, it might be even more credible than NGO reports. But, nevertheless, let’s look at hate crime data from other reputable sources.
According to the OSCE hate crime report, which is based on data from the Armenian police, only 19 cases of hate crime were reported in 2020. None of these cases was motivated by hate against any religion, including Islam. Even if a Muslim tourist may have an argument or a problem in the country (just a possible scenario), it will most likely be on grounds other than religion.
This is the reason that more and more Muslims come to live in Armenia on a permanent basis. Yes, as per the 2011 census, there were only 812 Muslims living in Armenia. However, this number has certainly increased since then, given the increased popularity of Armenia as a destination for settling for some Syrians and Iranians. The total number of Muslims permanently living in Armenia could have easily doubled since then.
According to various publications and data from non-governmental organizations, currently, there are 8000 Muslims in Armenia with 80% of them being non-citizen residents who stay in the country for extended periods. The majority of these Muslims come from Iran and others are from the Middle East and India. They do business in Armenia, study, or work at diplomatic offices. By the way you can read more about the safety of Indian tourists in Armenia in a separate post I wrote.
In fact, Iranians are leading in the number of visitors to Armenia. They arrive in Armenia ahead of Nowruz (Iranian New Year) and enjoy their time in Yerevan or somewhere else in the regions of Armenia.
How Muslim tourists see their safety in Armenia?
Researching how safe Armenia is for Muslim tourists, I wanted to hear from the actual people for whom this topic is relevant. So, I spoke to Marjan, an Iranian woman who traveled to Armenia for 3 days. She was in Armenia for work but took the chance to visit downtown Yerevan as well as do some shopping. So, I thought her insight would be relevant.
”All in all, Armenian people are kind, calm, cool, and respectful,” she said. According to her, people did not stare at her because of her hijab and she felt safe. ”I will visit Yerevan again and also recommend it to my friends,” Marjan said.
Marjan was with her friend Gazelle, who said she did not even think about safety as everything was ok. The only problem she had was the language barrier. ”Yerevan is a very calm and peaceful city. The city is very clean and the people are very kind and pleasant. I got very relaxed and could forget many of my concerns as I was walking in the streets,” she said. By the way, if you’re a woman and you want to travel to Armenia by yourself, you might find this post of mine also useful.
Marjan and Gazelle are not the only Muslims that feel safe in Yerevan. I spoke to the owner of the Armina Guest House in the town of Yeghegnadzor the other day, and she told me about this Syrian Arab guest of hers who claimed to be visiting Armenia for 7 years in a row. Apparently, this man in his 50s saw Armenia as a very safe place for Muslims, and he was actually planning to move to Armenia and open a hostel here.
Check my other post about Persian tours in Yerevan if you are an Iranian visiting Armenia.
Halal food in Armenia
If you are an observant Muslim, you may have concerns about the availability of halal food when you travel. I wrote a whole separate post about halal food in Armenia, so check it out for more details.
But, briefly, if you are concerned about halal food, don’t worry about that. There are some restaurants that have halal food certification like Liban or Taboule, both conveniently located a couple of steps away from the Blue Mosque of Yerevan. And of course, Shirvan, the favorite one among others, and in fact the best-rated halal restaurant in Yerevan.
However, it might be a bit more difficult to find halal restaurants outside of Yerevan. So, when traveling out of the capital, you may need to stick to safe fruit and vegetables.
Blue Mosque: a place for a safe prayer for Muslims in Yerevan
The Blue Mosque is where the local Muslim (mostly Iranian) community goes for prayers in Yerevan. Although most of the mosques in Armenia were demolished during the Soviet era, you can still visit this wonderful place for prayers. If you are a person of faith, you may feel safer during your travels if you rely on the Almighty when it comes to your protection. So, prayers may be a good way of finding that inner comfort. For that, you may want to visit this beautiful 18th-century mosque. It is the only active place of worship for Muslims in Armenia nowadays since none of the other historical mosques were preserved.
During the communist rule, for some time, the building served as a museum. However, after Armenia declared its independence from the USSR, this Shia mosque was renovated, and it opened its doors to Muslim believers. The mosque currently hosts a Persian library named after the poet Hafez, and it offers over 8,000 items.
Where to ask for help if something happens?
Whether you’re a Muslim traveler or a tourist of any other faith (or belief system), unexpected things happen anywhere. You may need medical assistance or some help in case of emergency. So, here are some contacts that can help you in case something happens.
|Address: 12, Mashtotsi Ave., Yerevan, Phone: +374-10-525730
|Address: 130 Nalbandyan St, Yerevan, Phone: +374-10-520310
|Vardanants Medical Center
|Address: 18, 1 Vardanants St, Yerevan, Phone: +374-60-592100
|Erebuni Medical Center
|Address: 14, Titogradyan St., Yerevan, Phone: +374-10-471100
|Expats in Armenia (Facebook group)
|Iranian Armenians (Facebook group)
Now, after having had a look at the official and not-so-official statistics on crime and safety in Armenia, I hope you see for yourself that this country is safe for you. But if Islam is your faith and you’re still unsure if Armenia is safe for Muslim tourists, I recommend you visit us and experience our hospitality first-hand. As a Muslim tourist in Armenia, you will enjoy everything our country has to offer, like anyone else from other cultures or religions.
Featured image credits: Antonov14 on Wikimedia (CC)