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    » 10/16/2012, 00.00


    Mayor of Moscow against new places of worship for Muslims

    For Sobyanin, the city does not need new mosques, because "they are frequented by illegal residents ". Opposition and human rights activists warn: this is likely to foster interfaith tension.

    Moscow (AsiaNews) - Controversy abounds in Moscow after Mayor Sergei Sobyanin's statement that he is opposed to the construction of new mosques in the capital, raising fears of the opposition and human rights activists that this could spark fresh religious tensions.

    Citing a recent study, Sobyanin said that "two-thirds" of Muslims attending the main mosque of the city are not from Moscow, but "come from the surrounding areas and have no residence permit." "If only Muscovites who permanently live here go to the mosque - said the mayor - there would probably be no over crowding".

    In August, to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan, about 90 thousand people gathered in the streets surrounding the mosque near the Olimpiisky stadium, including traffic jams and complaints from the local population.

    For some time, the Muslim leaders complained that the city's four mosques are no longer enough for a community that has reached 2 million faithful. The Council of muftis has asked that a place of worship be made available in each of the 12 administrative districts of the capital, but the authorities soon abandoned any project due to protests of the population. As was the case in September, when the council announced its withdrawal of the plan for the construction of a large mosque in Mitino, outside the village, after 2 thousand people took to the streets to express their dissent.

    Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the opposition party Yabloko and former deputy of the Duma in Moscow, called  Sobyanin's affirmation "strange", because "even the Christian churches in Moscow are not only used by the local residents." "Instead of studying integration policies in a multi-ethnic city like this - the politician denounced to the Moscow Times - the mayor is allowed to make statements that could lead to further tensions."

    Even Olga Sibiryova, of Sova think tank, finds that the words of Sobyanin "discriminatory" : the city council "is not helping those, however, who are protesting against the construction of new orthodox churches and certainly will not control the origins of the Christian faithful. " "The lack of mosques - she concludes- could stir up tensions much more than their construction would." (N.A.)


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    See also

    01/04/2011 RUSSIA
    Moscow will have 60 new churches and still no new mosque
    The decision of Mayor Sobianin, approval by the Patriarchate. Muslim leaders watch but also warn the Patriarchate against ostracizing the Islamic community and thus triggering a "time bomb".

    31/08/2011 RUSSIA - ISLAM
    Traffic and controversy, Muslims celebrate Eid al Adha in Moscow
    90 thousand in only four mosques in the capital. The President praises the role of the Islamic community in maintaining peace between different peoples in Russia. But controversy over the inadequate number of the mosques. In Chechnya, an attack results in at least seven dead and 18 injured.

    23/08/2011 RUSSIA - ISLAM
    Moscow, a park instead of the new mosque
    The authorities abandon plans for a new place of worship for Muslims in the capital, which had led to protests and tesion. The prefect: the area "not suitable".

    30/04/2011 RUSSIA
    Foundations laid for first of 200 new Orthodox churches in Moscow
    For the Patriarch Kirill the city will be an example to the whole country to change the entire image of religion in Russia. Mayor Sobianin calls for churches open to young people, not just a place of prayer.

    17/07/2010 RUSSIA
    Organizers of "Banned Religion" fined, considered offensive by the Moscow Patriarchate
    Sakharov Museum director and exhibition curator sentenced to pay around 5 thousand Euros each. The sentence sparks protests from civil society, denouncing the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate. The exhibition contains images deemed blasphemous. The prosecutor had asked for three years in prison. The lawyers announced an appeal.

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