Moscow Will Have 60 New Churches and No New Mosque
by Nina Achmatova
In the 1970ís, one could have never imagined this headline ever
coming out of Moscow, Russia.† In the 1970ís Christianís were being beaten, persecuted,
arrested and imprisoned. Churches stripped and turned into barns.† We have spoken of the time coming when in
that Christians shall be allowed to freely worship and serve God the Father and
Jesus Christ both publically and in private.††
We are delighted to see that such a day has arrived in Russia. We
trust that believers in that nation are wisely buying up the time.
The decision of Mayor Sobianin, approval by the Patriarchate. Muslim leaders watch but also warn the Patriarchate against
ostracizing the Islamic community and thus triggering a "time
(AsiaNews / Agencies)
It is more difficult to build a single mosque than 60
churches in Moscow.
Muslims, who are well aware of this given that Russia for
years has denied them permission to build a new place of worship, look
helplessly at the decision of the mayor of the capital Sergei Sobianin, to give the green light to 60 new Russian
Orthodox churches. "We welcome the unprecedented decision,"
said the spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church Vladimir Viguilianski.
In the Russian capital there is an Orthodox church for every 25 thousand
inhabitants, compared with the ratio of 1:10,000, which is found in the rest of
the country, says Viguilianski. After 70 years of
state atheism, "Moscow
now has 350 Orthodox churches, five times less than before the October
revolution of 1917," said the spokesman.
Muslim leaders, who are currently experiencing moments of tension with the
political power after years of friendly relations, do not condemn the mayorís
decision adding they are convinced that their needs "will be fulfilled
sooner or later," according to spokesman of the Council of muftis of
Russia Goulnour Gaziev. The
construction of a mosque in the south-east of Moscow was suspended last year over protests
raised by local residents, concerned about disturbance to public peace that
could result in the presence of an Islamic religious centre. The city has a
community of 1.5 million Muslims out of 12 million inhabitants. There are four
official mosques open for worship. Recently, the chief mufti of Russia, Ravil Gainutdin, criticized the
ostracism of the 20 million followers of Muhammad in the Federation by the
Orthodox majority, warning that the attitude is triggering a "time
"How can you fight radicalism if the young people are forced to meet in
houses, basements and sheds with a suspicious imam?" demanded Gainutdin. He also took the national media and political
power to task, guilty of encouraging 'Islamophobia'
with their speeches, already latent in Russian society, and of not aiding
co-existence between religions.
For their part, human rights organizations and groups that are fighting for
the secular state, point to the Mayorís futile effort to bow to the
Patriarchateís demands: the already existing churches in the City are half
empty, they point out that Is there really any need to
build new ones?