Staunton, Nov. 25 – The Russian capital now has three million Muslims, two million of whom are natives and one million immigrants, but only four mosques, Mufti Ildar Alyautdinov says. The Russian authorities oppose opening more or even allowing more prayer rooms because they few such religious facilities as alien and “a threat to the Russian nation.”
Muslim groups have long sought to open more mosques, but the authorities have refused. As a compromise, they have proposed having the Muslims open prayer rooms throughout the city. But in the wake of ethnic clashes, more Russians and Russian officials are seeking to close these (kavkazr.com/a/simvol-chuzhoy-kuljtury-pochemu-v-moskve-otkazyvayutsya-stroitj-novye-mecheti/31580020.html).
Prayer rooms are not an adequate substitute as far as Muslims are concerned. A mosque near where they live is an integral part of their faith. And they were never a completely acceptable idea as far as Russian officialdom was concerned because the authorities can’t monitor them as closely as they do mosques.
But if prayer rooms are closed as now seems likely in many parts of the capital and if the authorities continue to refuse to open new mosques as seems virtually certain in the current environment, then Muslims are likely to turn to underground mosques and become more radical as a result.
Thus, one can only agree with the mufti’s statement that what the powers that be in the Russian capital are doing as far as Muslims is concerned is “ridiculous” and counter-productive (govoritmoskva.ru/news/294797/).