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Tatarstan's Main Mosque Marks Prophet's Birth

KAZAN, Tatarstan -- Kazan's main Qol Sharif Mosque took part today in a unique celebration marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

The event -- which was organized and facilitated by Turkish state television -- connected people in Kazan, Istanbul, Cairo, Skopje (Macedonia), Kirkuk (Iraq), and Medina (Saudi Arabia) via a live TV bridge.

The show was broadcast on several Turkish channels with an audience of some 300 million people in the Turkic-speaking world.

Muhammad was born in Mecca in 570 A.D.

Tatarstan is home to Russia's largest Sunni Muslim community, with its capital, Kazan, claiming the status of "Russia's Islamic capital."

The Qol Sharif Mosque was inaugurated in June 2005 on the occasion of Kazan's millennium anniversary. It's built inside the area of the Kazan Kremlin, on the site where the ancient Grand Mosque stood during the Kazan Khanate.

The Grand Mosque was completely destroyed when Kazan was conquered by Russian forces in 1552.