08/23/2011, 00.00
RUSSIA - ISLAM
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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".
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The 'Mosque of discord', whose construction had caused last year's protests and tensions between the authorities and the Muslim community in Moscow, will never see the light of day. A park will be built on Volga Avenue, in place of the new place of worship demanded by the faithful of Muhammad. The proposal was made Aug. 19 by the prefect of the southwestern district of Moscow, as reported by the Sova Center agency, which monitors the news related to the different religions in Russia.

The prefect Vladimir Zotov suggested to the mayor, Sergei Sobianin, to abandon the mosque project - promised to the Muslims by former mayor Yuri Luzhkov - because "the area is not suitable for buildings of this magnitude, in the absence of public services”. Sobianin, report agencies, has welcomed the prefect’s proposal, hoping to permanently close a chapter that had caused tensions threatening to Moscow, a city where religious issues are always in danger of exploding into violent clashes.

In October 2010, after the announcement of the project for the new mosque and adjoining Koranic study centre, the residents of the Tekstilschiki neighborhood had protested in every possible way to prevent the project went forward. With the support of Orthodox and nationalist organizations, Muscovites had also launched an appeal to President Dmitry Medvedev, to avoid "social conflict from turning into a religious confrontation."

Already the Council of muftis had asked the previous administration for a new place of worship to accommodate the growing community of faithful in the capital. According to the signatories of the appeal, however, the mosque "will only cause parking problems and would represent a threat to the dogs owners," animals considered the incarnation of evil by followers of Islam.

But not only Muslims have problems in Moscow. Despite the mayor's go-ahead to build 200 new Orthodox churches, citizens' protests and bureaucratic difficulties in many cases are delaying construction. (N.A.)

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