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Tatarstan Parliament Introduces New Islam Holiday

Kazan's Kol Sharif Mosque
Kazan's Kol Sharif Mosque
KAZAN, Russia -- Tatarstan has introduced a new holiday to commemorate the adoption of Islam in what is now the Russian Federation, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Tatarstan's parliament on September 23 approved a bill to mark the adoption of Islam by the Volga Bulgars, the ancestors of the present-day Tatars, in 922.

The new holiday will be on May 21 each year.

In addition, parliament approved another annual holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Since Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar, the holiday will "float" and be marked on a different day each year.

Previously, only Kurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha), or the annual Muslim festival of sacrifice, is a state holiday in Tatarstan, a predominantly Muslim republic.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on June 1 signed a law introducing a national holiday on July 28 each year to commemorate the adoption of Christianity in 988.

Tatar officials first proposed introducing a similar state day for the adoption of Islam as well, but the initiative got bogged down in disagreements between Tatars and North Caucasus Muslims on the date Islam was first established in Russia.

Volga Bulgars adopted Islam in the 10th century, while clerics in Daghestan claim that Islam appeared in the North Caucasus as early as the seventh century.