Saturday, September 26, 2015

Moscow Must Open More Mosques or More Underground Ones Will Arise, Malashenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 26 – Although Muscovites may not like it, the authorities must allow for the opening of more mosques in the Russian capital – the existing five are simply too few – or the city will be confronted by an increase in the number of underground ones, at least some of which will promote extremism, according to Aleksey Malashenko.

            According to the MGIMO and Carnegie Center Moscow scholar, there are “approximately 1.5 million Muslims” in Moscow now, “more than half” of whom are migrants from the North Caucasus, South Caucasus and Central Asia, but only five mosques (

            That is far too few, Malashenko argues, and while some Muscovites may not like the idea of new mosques, they almost certainly would like what the failure to open more would lead to: a proliferation of underground and uncontrolled Muslim centers that in some cases would spread radicalism.

            He says that given this choice, “if small mosques were to be erected in a number of Moscow’s regions … nothing terrible would occur.” The newly reopened Moscow Cathedral Mosque is not enough: “Moscow is a big city and to assume that Muslims on Fridays will travel to it is not correct.”

            In a commentary on the Kavkaz-uzel portal, Magomed Tuayev reinforces this argument. He says that the re-opening of the Cathedral Mosque “doesn’t solve the problem of prayers on the streets of Moscow” given that 268,000 Muslims took part in celebrations of Kurban-Bayram earlier this week (

            The Union of Muftis of Russia said that 90,000 of them went to the Cathedral Mosque, 50,000 to the mosque on Poklonnaya, and 30,000 went to the Historic Mosque on Bolshaya Tatarskaya; but the remainder went to 22 unregistered mosques and prayer houses or prayed in the sports stadiums or in the streets because they had nowhere else to go.


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