The leaders of Moscow’s 1.5 million strong Muslim community say they desperately need more places of worship. But a plan to build a new mosque has run into local opposition which is being fuelled by nationalists calling for a ‘clean Moscow’ without Muslims and foreigners.
[. . . ]
The Moscow media have already christened this patch of green “the Russian Ground Zero” in a reflection of strife over the mosque being built near Ground Zero, the site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood in New York before the terror attack of 9/11. The country’s largest online newspaper, gazeta.ru, drew parallels with other European controversies surrounding Islam: The burqa ban in France and the immigration debate now raging in Germany. Europeans are frightened of Islam because the religion’s values are utterly foreign to them, the article said. “Now we are experiencing something similar in Moscow and St. Petersburg.”
According to estimates by the Moscow council of muftis (equivalent to a council of deacons in the Christian faith), up to 20 million Muslims live in Russia today. Muslims have dominated some parts of the country for centuries. While the predominantly Muslim Republic of Tatarstan in the Volga region is regarded as moderate, guerrillas are fighting to set up an Islamic state in the northern Caucasus. Islamic extremists were behind the suicide bomb attacks that shook the Russian capital this March and killed 40 people.
Posted On October 21 , 2010(2)