10/13/2010, 00.00

Appeal to Medvedev against mosque

Moscow residents against the construction of a new place of worship for Muslims are turning to the Russian president: "We do not want the conflict to be transformed into religious confrontation."

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Moscow residents are asking Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to intervene directly in the question of a new mosque in the capital. The authors of the appeal, t residents of Tekstilschiki neighborhood - where a mosque and a Koranic school are set to be built - explain that they have no political aims, but only the desire to prevent "a social conflict from turning into a religious clash”.

For weeks the residents of the neighborhood have been collecting signatures and demonstrating along the Avenue Volga, where the Council of mufti has asked to have a new place of worship. Officially, the citizens are opposed to the mosque because it would occupy the only green area within a radius of several kilometers. According to the signatories the mosque would create parking problems and would represent a threat to the owners of dogs, pets considered the incarnation of the devil by the faithful of Islam. Previously, the same residents had requested that an Orthodox chapel be built, but permission was denied. For their part, supporters of the construction of the mosque, such as Arthur Urmanshin, state that before there were more mosques in Moscow now there are not enough.

The Muscovites are now calling for the president to "personally" take control of the situation and to urge the Attorney General to control how the Moscow authorities are moving on this issue.

In addition to a petition and the appeal to Medvedev, the Tekstilschiki group has launched a "stencil" initiative: anyone can draw a picture of the mosque on the walls of the neighborhood, so as to bring the "problem" to the attention even of those do not know anything yet.

The tension between the Orthodox and Muslim communities is now in danger rising. On 11 October, on the website of the Council of muftis warned of future protests of Muslims in Moscow. For now the situation is under control, but the alert remains high. (NA)

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