Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Kremlin Commits to Russia-Wide Celebration of 1100th Anniversary of Adoption of Islam There

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 6 – Vladimir Putin has called for Muslim religious leaders and the heads of federal subjects where Islam is prominent to form a committee to make plans for a Russia-wide commemoration next year of the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam in portions of what is now Russia.

            Two Moscow officials, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin who earlier worked in Tatarstan and Yevgeny Yeremin, head of the Presidential Administration’s department for work with religious groups, made that announcement at a ceremony  at the Bolgar Islamic Academy (islamsng.com/rus/news/16819 and business-gazeta.ru/article/511896).

            That ceremony involved Muslim religious leaders from across the country as well as officials from the Muslim republics of the Middle Volga region, most prominently, almost the entire past and present leadership of Tatarstan. Yeremin indicated that leaders of non-Muslim regions will be encouraged to get involved as well.

            Many Muslim leaders at the conference where this was announced stressed that the anniversary should be the occasion for rebuilding mosques still in a state of decay or building new mosques where they are not. That sets up controversies both of the NIMBY kind and also with Orthodox Christian groups who oppose anything that highlights the Islamic presence.

            One of the hotspots for such controversies is likely to be Moscow where Dmitry Pakhomov, the head of the Christianity and Islam Association has just issued a stinging denunciation of the authorities for failing to allow Muslims to build more mosques and mistreating the  faithful in other ways (facebook.com/FondmxsM  and trtrussian.com/novosti-rossiya/sopredsedatel-associacii-hristianstvo-i-islam-moskve-ochen-nuzhny-mecheti-5683365).

            The situation with regard to the rights of Muslims in the Russian capital is “unacceptable,” he says. And it may even prove dangerous because depriving Muslims of their rights creates a situation in which radicalism may spread and clashes between people of different faiths and different nationalities become more likely.

            Muslims are discriminated against by the police, in housing, and in a variety of other areas, Pakhomov says. Among these are “the extremely small number of mosques” in the Russian capital, far too few not only because Moscow is the capital of a state with a large number of Muslims but because there are ever more Muslims, both immigrants and Russian citizens, in the city.

            “We will do everything that depends on us to defend the rights and freedoms of the Islamic umma of Moscow. New mosques must and will be built,” the leader of the Christianity and Islam Association says. But he is clearly fighting an uphill battle.

            Ten days ago, the Muslim community in southeastern Moscow lost its building which it had used both as a mosque and a community center and in which it had invested a great deal of money. It does not have a replacement in prospect (islamnews.ru/news-musulmane-yugo-vostoka-moskvy-lishilis-obshchinnogo-tsentra).

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