Aina Gamzatova
Aina Gamzatova

A prominent female Muslim journalist has thrown her hat in the ring for Russia's 2018 presidential election, which will be held in March.

Aina Gamzatova, 46, hails from Russia's Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan. A Sufi adherent, Gamzatova heads Russia's largest Muslim media holding -, which includes television, radio and print outlets. She also writes books on Islam and runs several charities, according to RT.

Akhmad Abdulaev, the Mufti of Dagestan, is Gamzatova's husband.

As Russia's first-ever female Muslim presidential candidate, Gamzatova is a trailblazer for her community and for women.

Although Gamzatova has yet to reveal a detailed election program, she has voiced her intention to get tough on Islamist extremists in her country. Dagestan has been troubled by violence from extremist attacks, including one that killed the presidential candidate's first husband, Muslim leader Said Muhammad Abubakarov.

In previous speeches and books, Gamzatova has blasted extremists as "duplicitous" and "blood-thirsty", according to Al Jazeera.

Many Muslims have rallied around her, seeing her campaign as an important step to raise the profile of their community in the country. Islam is the second-most-widely practiced religion in Russia, after Orthodox Christianity. Between 10 to 15 percent of the country's population are adherents of Islam.

"Even if she loses, people will know that a girl in a hijab [a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion] is not just a mother or a woman, but is also an educated, wise and respected woman," former Olympic champion in boxing and Dagestan's deputy sports minister Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov wrote on Instagram, referencing Gamzatova's campaign.

Of course, incumbent Russian President Vladimir Putin is widely seen as the clear frontrunner in the upcoming election. 

"Of course, she won't become president, it's stupid to even discuss it," Zakir Magomedov, a popular blogger from Dagestan, wrote.

But Gamzatova will likely receive a high number of votes, particularly from Russian Muslims. As for her personal viewpoint, Gamzatova is less interested in who supports hers, advocating instead for a united nation.

"Our country, Russia, is our home, and if we divide ourselves into Muslims and Christians, Caucasus natives and Russians, our country's government will not exist," she said.