Russian muftis: Moscow needs more mosques

Thousands of believers take part in morning prayers to celebrate the first day of Eid-al-Fitr in Moscow August 8, 2013.

Thousands of believers take part in morning prayers to celebrate the first day of Eid-al-Fitr in Moscow August 8, 2013.

The Russian capital Moscow requires more mosques due to overcrowding at existing ones, the country’s Council of Muftis said on Monday, Russia Today reported.

“Believers deserve more mosques in Moscow,” said¬ council spokesperson Gulnur Gaziyeva.

“We are suggesting 10 mosques for the whole of Moscow, one for each administrative district.”

Worshippers flock to the capital’s four mosques during religious celebrations, where they often pray on the street due to overcrowding, prompting authorities to block major roads to traffic.

More mosques would prevent these problem¬s, said Gaziyeva.

“No one would have to stop the traffic if the mosques were evenly distributed throughout the city.”

Muslim officials have repeatedly called for more mosques in recent years as the capital’s Muslim population grows.

Moscow’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, has repeatedly blocked such requests, saying last year that “only migrant workers” needed them.

Most Muslim worshippers are not permanent residents of the city and must leave once their contracts are over, he said.

The existing mosques can cater to the city’s permanent Muslim population, he added.

In 2012, Moscow’s Echo radio station quoted Sobyanin as saying no new mosques would be built in the city as long as he was mayor.

“It has turned out that the praying Muslims are not at all Russian citizens and they are not Moscow residents. They are labor migrants.

There are only 10 percent of Moscow residents among them and building mosques for everyone who wants it – I think this will be over the top,” he told Echo in 2013.

In response to Sobyanin’s remarks, Nafigulla Ashirov, co-chairman of the Council of Muftis, said if necessary Muslims would raise the issue with President Vladimir Putin.

The council says that there are almost two million Muslim legal residents in Moscow who often struggle to find a place to perform their weekly Friday prayer due to overcrowding.

 
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