Saturday, March 30, 2019

People in Yakutsk No Longer Feel Secure, Local Imam Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 29 – Musa Sagov, the imam at the only mosque in Yakutsk, says that after the demonstrations over reports that a Kyrgyz immigrant had raped a Sakha woman, no one in the city feels secure from possible attack or counterattack. Some local people early on even tried to damage or destroy the mosque; but they were blocked by police.

            Many migrant Muslims were tense, Sagov told Mikhal Shevelyov of MBK News; but they did not stop coming to the mosque for services and prayers. The mosque can hold 3,000 people. On Fridays, two to three thousand attend; on other days, “of course, fewer” (

            The mosque is a center of Kyrgyz life: while there are some ethnic Russian converts to Islam, the imam says; 90 percent of those who attend are Kyrgyz, some of the approximately 30,000 Kyrgyz now living and working in Yakutsk. When they couldn’t go to work because of fears of attack, some of them came to the mosque.

            The situation has calmed in recent days, Sagov says. If anyone does anything untoward to the Kyrgyz, the Kyrgyz film it, put it on YouTube, and the local police move in to stop whatever problems the Kyrgyz may be facing.

            The order by the republic leader to keep those without Russian citizenship from working in certain occupations won’t hit the Kyrgyz as hard as the Tajiks and Uzbeks, fewer of whom have Russian passports.  But however that might he, Sagov says, he and those who attend the mosque object to the order because it is against the people.

            Moreover, he says, it is certain that if something like immigration is restricted in this way, that action will only drive the problem underground and lead to more illegal immigration and all the problems that involves.

            People in Yakutsk are still trying to figure out why the explosion happened, Sagov continues. As for himself, he believes that it was something intentional and organized in advance by someone.  You simply can’t get that many people to come out all at once as happened once the rape was reported.

            The Yakutsk imam suggests that among the possible organizers are “nationalist organizations and nationalistically inclined people. No all people are good and tolerant,” Sagov continues. “But nationalists regardless of toward which side they direct their anger always give rise to evil.”
.           Asked if he is worried about a local petition -- which has already garnered 6,000 signatures -- calling for moving the mosque beyond the Yakutsk city limits (мэрия-г-якутска-прошу-рассмотреть-возможность-переноса-мечети-за-пределы-жилых-районов-г-якутска), Sagov says the head of the republic has told him that the mosque won’t be moved.

            “This is simply the latest provocation.” 

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