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Russia

Tensions Rising Between Moscow's Muslims And Police

Moscow Police Search Muslim Migrants Before Friday Prayersi
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September 27, 2012
Riot police searched and detained passers-by, apparently Central Asian migrants, on their way to Friday Prayers at a mosque near Moscow's Prospekt Mira on September 21. (Video by Tom Balmforth, RFE/RL)

WATCH: Moscow police search Muslim migrants before Friday Prayers

By Tom Balmforth
MOSCOW -- Shermamat Suyarov says he will think twice before returning to pray at Moscow's largest mosque.

Suyarov, a 52-year-old Russian citizen of Kyrgyz origin, says he was sitting in a parked car waiting to attend prayers on September 17 when police ordered him out and detained him.

He was hauled into a police bus with scores of other would-be worshippers. Later at a police station he claims he was beaten so severely after he complained about the rough treatment that he had to be hospitalized:

"They beat me with their fists, batons and feet," he says. "There were five or six of them beating me and there were some others there too. I wasn't counting. I lost consciousness. I was in shock and broke a rib."

Others who were detained that that day includeAli Muratov, a 39-year-old migrant worker from Kyrgyzstan. He becomes visibly emotional when he describes how Suyarov "cried out for help" during the beating.

"They beat up an old man for no reason," he says. "There were about 30 of us. A boy, also from Kyrgyzstan, ended up next to him and they beat him as well. This is the kind of violence we have to endure."

And it was not an isolated incident. What reportedly happened with Suyarov and Muratov on that day is illustrative of how tensions between Moscow's Muslims and police have escalated in recent weeks as thousands of worshipers flock to just five mosques in the Russian capital, sparking bitter complaints from local residents and often brutal crackdowns by police.

Burgeoning Muslim Population

According to Aleksei Malashenko, a specialist in Islamic issues at the Moscow Carnegie Center, one of the most troublesome issues is the lack of places of worship to accommodate Moscow's burgeoning Muslim population.

"It’s a big problem," he says. "We have somewhere between 1 and 1.5 million Muslims in Moscow. That makes Moscow the biggest Muslim city in Europe. Yet we have only five mosques."

Some estimates place Moscow's Muslim population as high as 2 million. In contrast, London, which has between 600,000 and 1 million Muslims, has over a thousand mosques.

The issue, Malashenko adds, is complicated by the resentment many Muscovites feel toward millions of migrants, many of them Muslims from Central Asia and the Caucasus, who have flocked to the Russian capital in search of work.

"The government and our political elite have no real understanding; they have no vision as far as Islam is concerned," he says. "They talk so much about dialogue, but it's nonsense. It's nonsense because of the problem of Islamophobia and because frictions between Muslims and the rest of the population are growing." 

Russia’s policy on Islam has been in the spotlight after it threatened to ban as "extremist" the YouTube film “Innocence of Muslims” that mocks the Prophet Mohammed and which has sparked violent rioting in the Muslim world.

Nationalist Protests

To alleviate the problem of too few mosques, Russia's Council of Muftis has called on city authorities to authorize the construction of more Muslim places of worship. More mosques, they say which would assuage the problem of a large concentration of worshippers congregating in just a few neighborhoods.

But constructing new mosques in Moscow has proven problematic.

On September 19, an estimated 1,500 Muscovites gathered in the Mitino district on the capital's outskirts to demonstrate against the planned construction of a new mosque there.

Russian nationalist groups spearheaded the protests and the next day the local authorities withdrew permission to build the mosque.

Much of the recent tension has taken place near what local Muslims still call the Cathedral Mosque, located in downtown Moscow near the city's Olympic Stadium.

The actual mosque, which was built in 1904 and was considered Russia's central mosque, was demolished by city authorities on September 11, 2011. The official reason was that the building had deteriorated and was a hazard.

The mosque is currently under reconstruction. Local Muslims now gather to pray there in  a temporary mosque adjacent to the construction site, which they still refer to as the Cathedral Mosque.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jack from: US
September 28, 2012 17:29
"innocent Muslims" again?

by: Briny from: USA
September 28, 2012 17:51
So Muslims complain about a shortage of mosques in Moscow? Just as a Christian might complain about a lack of churches in Mecca? Oh, wait--a Christian in Mecca would be condemmed to death on the spot. The possession of a Bible in Saudi Arabia is a high crime. The Westerners who invent slur words like "islamophobic" are blind to their own delusion that the religious ideology named "Submission" means anything but exactly that. .
In Response

by: Anonymous
September 28, 2012 19:40
I don't think Saudi Arabia illegally occupies "Christian" lands. Russia on the other hand illegally occupies: Chechnya, Tatarstan, Bashkirstan, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Adygea. Time to build more mosques or get the hell out of the countries listed above "briny".
In Response

by: Rick
September 28, 2012 22:46
Illegally ?

is the power of who win ,
is legal occupation of USa of West side of the country ?

In Response

by: Alex from: LA
September 29, 2012 01:01
If we go by your ideology then All Muslim must go back to Saudi Arabia, that's where Islam belongs. Christianity was spread out all over when the horde of brainless men came down on the whole Christian world with barbarianism that is instilled in their ideology to convert or kill those that don't convert. Get out of Western Armenian, Anatolia, Iraq , Egypt the rest of the North Africa, Iran, all of Asia and Africa to the hell hole it came out of to Mecca.
In Response

by: Frank
September 29, 2012 04:26
Anonymous,

Russia doesn't "illegally" occupy the lands that you mention.

Russia is far more democratic and tolerant than Saudi Arabia.

Your anti-Russian propaganda reeks of lies.

In Response

by: Anonymous
September 29, 2012 13:53
Rick: then do not complain when Muslims beat crap out of you. It is the force which grows very fast (many Russians convert to Islam including former Nazis, because they see the only force which fights against oppressive regimes) . You place the seeds of hate and hate you will get back.
Alex: the countries chose the religion on their free will. Islam is not spread around the word with weapons like democracy or orthodox Christianity.
Frank: that is why Chechens will rebel again but this time they will accumulate more force to punch you right in your face.
In Response

by: Laknatullah from: Papua, Indonesia
October 01, 2012 07:32
1. Moscow is not "muslim" land. Muslim in moscow are immigrant. There are millions of non-muslims (indians, chinese, and western peoples) in saudi and they not allowed to church, temple, or vihara. They even can't bought bible, veda, or tripitaka. It is the real racism.
2. Muslim illegally occupies "christian lands". The Turks occupies greece, bulgaria, serbia, croatia, hungary, romania, macedonia, armenia, georgia, etc. Also The arabs occupies spain, portugal, and southern italy. They fought the muslim and they win. And from 1963 until now our land papua occupied by indonesian muslims.
In Response

by: Anonymous
October 01, 2012 18:24
Laknatullah from: Papua, Indonesia think when you open your mouth. Russia illegally occupies the North Caucasus, Tatar, Bashkir Muslim people who do not have any other native land except the one Christian Russian terrorists occupied. Saudi Arabia doesn't illegally occupy India, USA, or any other land. If they did, I assume it would be fair to ask Saudis to build Christian or Hindu temples. So you can nicely shut up or face more argument beating silly terrorist.
In Response

by: Laknatullah from: Papua, Indonesia
October 02, 2012 06:06
1. As what I say before Moscow is not muslim land so if moscow resident didn't agree about new mosques the muslim must respect that.
In north caucasus there are many republics such as checen republic, dagetan republic, etc who have their own law. And mosque are free to build many mosque in there. But in moscow they can insist to build new mosque if moscow resident didn't agree.
2. Yes not saudi arabia but other muslim country such as indonesia who illegally occupies papua have more dicriminative.
Altough most of papuan people are christian it's hard to build a church in papua. It's required agreement from 3 ministers. But the muslim immigrant minority are free to build new mosques in papua without permission.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
September 28, 2012 19:41
wait, isn't Saudi Arabia the strategic ally of US government and aren't Hillary Clinton and John McCain best friends of Saudis?
In Response

by: Marusya from: Russia
September 28, 2012 22:21
you are right, that is why when the USA will want to destroy Russia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will lover the oil prices like 3 decades ago, and your country will go down the drain like the USSR. Keep yapping for now while you have something to eat.
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
September 29, 2012 01:47
You have assumed that all moslems - all 1.2 billion or 23 percent of humanity - act in accord with the Salafism in place in Saudi Arabia. Your assumption is incorrect, and there are many Islamic countries where bibles are available. Additionally, there are currently over 1 million Roman Catholics living in Saudi Arabia, most of them workers from India and the Phillipines. Please check your facts before you press the SEND button, Briny.

by: Rick from: nearest RUSSIA than USA
September 28, 2012 23:59
And this video? What should means this video?

This is how """"Muslims Feel The Heat"""" ?!?!?!
This is ""Tensions Rising """ in Moscow ?!?!?

Go to Madrid or Athens
and see , see what is ""Tensions Rising """

This is a site of stubborn Americans who want to fight an enemy
that no longer exists
looking since long time to paint in russia a situation of inter-religious disaccord
just trying to break russian fed. society

this is a behavior filthy, shameful ! ! !

I have yet to see
what will happen the day in which in the center of Whasington DC will be there thousands of Muslims for pray,
I want to see how much democratic tolerance towards Muslims would be able to show Americans.

Russians FED people , people I speak ,
of every religion
lived for centuries together
no matter if Christians or Muslims or any other religion ,

they fought side by side
they suffered toghether the same hardships
they were bitten toghether by the same injustices of communism

Their cultures were always mixed in a way of life
in which they are accustomed to tolerate and respect
each other
a way of life very very different from USA way of life !

Russian Fed doesn't need those poisoned apples
that RFE is trying to inject for enlarge religious hatred in the country

as USA are doing always everywhere

RFE has a section dedicated to the region of Tatar-Bashkir,
why ?
Why RFE is interessted on this region of the federation
while RFE don't care for example for Ural Federal District! !

Speak me , WHY ?

WHY if RFE born for fight against communism
now that Euro communism died
RFE don't has a part dedicated to CINA ?

Speak me , WHY ?

You can answer me that Cina isn't Europe , but .....
are Europe Pakistan , Iran , Tjikistan , Uzbekistan ?!?!?

No they aren't

I never was enthusiast for RFE
but now , today , after this article ,
I really start to despise it .


I pray for god of muslim and for god of Orthodox
for give to Russian federation an happy,
prosperous and fraternal future

and that Americans will cry for envy
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
September 29, 2012 23:15
You speak passionately from the heart - I like it.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
September 29, 2012 05:33
Everything would be OK, if Russia adhered to secular ethics.//
Putin, however, wanted to play in the believer.
Village pervert -communist and KGB agent started to go to chapel to obscurants and pray... forbidden to publicly criticize the obscurantist and their tales.As a result the religious fanatics become impudent to the extreme..
If they find out that you do not believe in god or allah, they can attack you or even kill..
In all violence guilty Putin, who supports obscurantist -who try to impose their own rules..
by muslim fanatics unhappy orthodox fanatics who work including the police...
Putin needs hatred and violence on the international scene for high oil prices and inside Russia to suppress opposition..When in Russia reigns hatred and violence, it is easier to fight with opposition..Putin's next move, his threat of nuclear war against Europe and the U.S...
----
Sweet dreams Mr. Whitmore and other gentlemen who sit and look stupidly as maniac moves to war....

by: Ben
September 30, 2012 14:07
I think that the Western promotion of democrat Navalny has the wholesome effect on Orthodox-Muslims relations! Ha! Ha!

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