Putin Opens Mosque in Moscow
Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated Moscow’s new mosque on Eid Kurban Bairam, the Russian term for Eidul Azha which was celebrated on September 23 in the country. Among the invitees were President of Turkey, Tayib Erdogan and Palestinan President, Mahmood Abbas. The mosque has been constructed at the site of an old mosque which was torn down to construct a new. It took 10 years to build the mosque.
Islam is the second largest religion in Russia, home to 23 million Muslims. The majority of them live in the country’s North Caucasian republics of Daghestan, Bashakrstan, Chechnya-Ingushita, Tartarstan, and Kazan. Moscow has nearly two million Muslims.
The $170m mosque was entirely funded by private donations. Putin, who has been fighting Muslim rebels in south Russia since coming to power in 1999, used his speech to emphasize the challenge of preventing Muslim radicalisation, praising the collaboration of the religious leaders of the country.
“Muslim leaders of Russia are courageously using their authority to resist the extremist propaganda. I’d like to express huge respect to these people who are carrying out a really heroic work…” he said.
The new mosque – built on the site of a smaller, more than 100-year-old mosque destroyed in 2011 – can accommodate 10,000 worshippers, but it is still one of only six mosques in the city.
Calls from Muslim religious leaders to build more mosques have met with opposition from city officials and residents. “There are many Muslims and very few mosques in Moscow,” said Russia’s human rights movement veteran and Moscow Helsinki Group Chairman Lyudmila Alekseyeva.