Staunton, August 11 – Mufti Ayder Rustemov, the head of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Crimea who is now living in Kyiv, says that “as long as Crimea is occupied, the Muslim holiday of Kurban-Bayram will have special meaning for Crimean Tatars” because it is about sacrificing for a larger purpose.
The Crimean Tatars need to be reminded of this given that “we are in a state of struggle with occupiers who have come to our motherland” (qha.com.ua/po-polochkam/poka-krym-okkupirovan-kurban-bajram-imeet-osobennyj-smysl-dlya-krymskih-tatar-muftij-ajder-rustemov-o-suti-prazdnika-i-o-tom-kak-ego-otmechayut-v-kieve/).
“When you are on your native land,” the mufti says, “everything is absolutely different” than when you are elsewhere. “Although Ukraine is our country because Crimea is part of Ukraine, native places are where you were born. The city in which you work will never replace the village in which you were born.”
The mufti continues: “Let us hope that we will be able to return to Crimea and do everything possible which depends on us.”
Asked by the QHA news agency how many Muslims now live in Kyiv, Mufti Rustemov says that “unfortunately no one maintains this figure, but it is obvious to the eye that the number of Muslims is growing and the number of Crimean Tatars who are coming to Kyiv from Crimea is growing is well.”
“I am not pleased by this,” he says. “On the contrary, I regret it because the repressive machine is working there, and people are forced to leave their motherland and try to begin life in the center of Ukraine all over again.”
The Crimean MSD has opened a representative office to help them, and its mosque and two prayer rooms hold a few more than 400 people. In the city and oblast as a whole, the mufti continues, there are now on the order of 15,000 Crimean Tatars. In addition, there are many more Muslims of other nationalities. All can prayer freely.