Moscow (AsiaNews) - A mosque dedicated to the controversial Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, will be built in the town of Shali, according to RIA Novosti news agency. The press office of the local government announced that the ceremony of laying the foundation stone took place on December 2. The mosque, which will have a capacity of 10 thousand faithful, will be among the largest in Europe and its construction should be completed within three years.
The place of worship will be dedicated to the Chechen leader, as a sign of recognition for "services rendered to Islam," said Khozh-Akhmad Kadyrov, Ramzan's uncle and head of the Religious Council of the Caucasus republic of Russia. "Mosques and madrassas (Koranic schools) continue to be built in the country - said the religious - all public buildings have a prayer room and this is the result of the efforts of our president." "Chechnya has created the conditions for ensuring the freedom to study and profess Islam," he added, explaining that the decision to build the mosque is linked to the "numerous calls from resident Chechens," grateful for the work of the head of the republic.
The new mosque, designed by Uzbek architects, will be the second to bear the name of a Kadyrov after opening, in 2008, in the capital Grozny, of a mosque named after the late father of Ramzan, the former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov.
The news has sparked controversy. Not only because the young president, 36, is considered by human rights defenders as a bloodthirsty dictator who has imposed, unofficially, the Koranic law in the republic. But also because the source of funding for the large building is unknown. Grozny receives large amounts of money from Moscow to maintain the "peace" - reached, apparently, after two wars - only to use the money without any attempts at transparency. This has resulted in frequent reprimands of some ministers of the central government. At the same time the head of the republic has demanded civil servants at all levels to make a donation directly from their salary, to replenish the Akhamd Kadyrov presidential fund officially in charge of the so-called reconstruction of Chechnya, but also in this case plundered for diverse and often of dubious projects. It is said that Kadyrov used fund resources to organize his now infamous birthday parties paying the most famous international stars to the tune of thousands of dollars to attend. To those who dared to ask where the money came from for his lavish 35th birthday in Grozny, last year, Ramzan replied: "a gift from Allah."