10/29/2016, 10.52
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Even Tatarstan mufti backs abortion ban

by Nina Achmatova

The Muslim religious leader gives his support to the campaign of the Orthodox Church to ban abortion. In September, Patriarch Kirill signed a petition calling for the total ban of the practice, raising numerous controversies. But for most Russians it is a woman's right to be protected.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Kamil Samigullin, the mufti of the Russian Muslim majority autonomous republic of Tatarstan, has given his support to the idea of ​​banning abortion, which has sparked debate in Russia. The religious leaders wanted to emphasize that the right to life is sacred in Islam and has thus given his backing to a campaign launched by the Orthodox Church and Moscow Patriarch Kirill, stirring much controversy.

"The right to life is a grace of Allah and we must protect it," said Samigullin, as reported by Interfax. In June this year, the inter-religious council of Russia - which brings together the representatives of the 'traditional religions' of the country (Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism) - called for the withdrawal of abortion practices from the national health system.

Last September Kirill signed a petition launched by the activists of the "Pro Life" movement and "Orthodox Volunteers", calling for the total ban of abortion in the country. The signing of the appeal is a hardening of the previous position of the Church, which until now was limited to demanding the cancellation of abortion from the list of treatments covered by the public health system, in the absence of serious medical reasons.

On its website, the Moscow Patriarchate said that the wording of 'appeal - which advocates "an end to the legal killing of children before birth" -  was agreed with the Synodal Commission for family and maternity protection. With the petition, the signatories called for amendments to the current legislation and the prohibition of abortions induced by drugs as well as surgical procedures. The document also advocates the need to "recognize the embryo as a human being, whose life and health must be protected by law" and therefore prohibit family planning methods that "humiliate human dignity and kill children in the early stages of embryonic development”.

The Patriarch’s support of the petition, also signed by some deputies, has sparked a chorus of online controversy, which the spokesman for the Patriarch, Vladimir Legoida, then tried to retract. He stated that, "the fundamental position of the Russian Orthodox Church does not change and that is to seek the elimination of abortion from the list of practices covered by the public health system," he said. "The people opposed to abortion should not pay for this procedure with their money, "he added Legoida.

 

Sor far, the petition has collected 300,000 signatures and the idea is to reach a million and then present the document to the Duma and President Vladimir Putin. The initiative is also supported by the new children's ombudsman, Anna Kuznetosva, an ultra-conservative close to the Orthodox Patriarchate.

For years the State has been preaching for a return to "traditional values", which also include those of the family and of the Orthodox religion. Despite this the practice of abortion is widespread in Russia: according to the latest official estimates, in 2014 there were close to one million and the figure does not account for those practiced in private clinics.

For some time now Russia is in what has been described as a  'demographic coma', but in 2014, the situation improved somewhat. The State has implemented a series of measures that stimulate parents to have more than one child. In its policy for demographic recovery, the government relies heavily on the support of the Orthodox Church, which operates 29 crisis centers for pregnant women and single mothers with children.

A recent survey, however, showed that the removal of abortion from the practices covered by the public health system is not supported by the population and the majority of Russians believes that a woman should be given the right to abortion.

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