News / Europe

Moscow's Large Muslim Community Faces Violence, Suppression

Moscow’s Muslim Community Defined by Street Prayers, Pogromsi
X
October 16, 2013 12:54 PM
For more than a generation, Paris, London and Berlin have all experienced surges in their Muslim populations. Now it is Moscow’s turn. James Brooke reports on how Russia’s capital is adapting to this religious and demographic challenge.
Moscow’s Muslim Community Defined by Street Prayers, Pogroms
James Brooke
Moscow is now home to 2 million Muslims - more than any other city in Europe.
 
So when the faithful gathered Tuesday for the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday, tens of thousands of men unrolled their prayer mats on the asphalt of Moscow’s streets. Last year, they prayed outside in rain and snow.
 
Looming overhead were the new minarets of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque, a century-old mosque that is now being expanded. It is one of only four mosques in all of Moscow.
 
“Certainly mosques are needed. Mosques are needed in each micro-district,” said Abdul Bari Sultanov, a Russian Muslim from Tatarstan, a historically Muslim region, after prayers Tuesday. “As well as madrassas, schools, imams so that people would be morally prepared for meeting their God.”
 
The Russian Orthodox Church is building 200 new churches around Moscow. In contrast, new mosque projects never win building permits.
 
Russian Muslim activist Geydar Dzhemal claims that the Kremlin blocks new mosques in Russia’s capital.
 
“They understand the politics of suppression -- direct suppression,” said Dzhemal, who has criticized Moscow’s policy on Islam since the Soviet days.  “And they don't understand that this will create problems for themselves much worse then those they are trying to understand now.”
 
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has vowed that no new mosques will be built in Moscow. He claims that the Muslims praying in streets on holidays are largely Central Asians, guest workers who will eventually go home.
 
“It has turned out that the praying Muslims are not at all Russian citizens and they are not Moscow residents,” Sobyanin recently told Ekho Moskvi. “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,” continued the mayor.
 
“Muscovites now get irritated by people who speak a different language, have different manners, with aggressive behavior,” he added.
 
Sobyanin, a Kremlin ally, won last month’s mayoral elections. He seems to know what voters are thinking. On Sunday, Slavic residents in a working class Moscow neighborhood rioted against Central Asians and Caucasians. “Russia Forward! Russia Forward!” they chanted.
 
The spark that set off the incident was the stabbing death last week of a young Slavic Russian man. An immigrant from Azerbaijan was arrested in the case on Tuesday.
 
  • Moscow has one mosque for 500,000 Muslims. On religious holidays, like Eid Al-Adha, tens of thousands of faithful pray in streets specially blocked off near mosques, Moscow, Oct. 15, 2013. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Police line a pedestrian tunnel connecting Prospect Mira (Peace Avenue) Metro station and the Cathedral Mosque area, Moscow, Oct. 15, 2013. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Vendors sell colorful, durable mats for praying on the pavement in Moscow, Oct. 15, 2013. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Twin minarets of Moscow's new Cathedral Mosque rise over the green painted madrassa, a religious school which dates to the original construction in 1904. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Some men arrived as early as 2 am for prayers that started at sunrise -- 8 am in Moscow, Oct. 15, 2013. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Tens of thousands of faithful occupied almost every corner of Schepina Street, near the Cathedral Mosque in Moscow, Oct. 15, 2013. (Vera Undritz)
  • Vendors sell prayer beads and skull caps, Moscow, Oct. 15, 2013. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Men pray in the streets of Moscow, Oct. 15, 2013. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Men complete their prayers on a closed street, Moscow, Oct. 15, 2013. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • A man completes his prayers on a closed street, Moscow, Oct. 15, 2013. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Blue construction workers barracks stand next to the concrete shell of the Cathedral Mosque which is to be completed by 2015, Moscow. (Vera Undritz for VOA)


Analysts called the anti-immigrant riot a modern day pogrom. While police released most of the rioters, they detained 2,000 migrant workers for identity checks. Politicians called for banning apartment sales to foreigners and for imposing visa restrictions on migrants from the southern Muslim nations that only a generation ago were part of the Soviet Union.
 
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Isolda Kukushkina moved to Moscow from Ukraine, a nation often seen as Russia’s cultural and religious cradle. On Tuesday, near the Moscow Cathedral, she looked at the rivers of Muslim men who flowed past her Orthodox Church, dedicated to St. Philip and worried about Moscow’s future.
 
“It will be Muslim, I am afraid,” she said. “Believe me I like them, but Moscow must be Slavic. It should be somehow balanced. But this influx of immigrants influences our life in a bad way,” said Kukushkina.
 
For now, Moscow’s future is playing out on the streets, defined by prayers - and pogroms.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: INDIAN from: INDIA
October 18, 2013 8:12 AM
Russia have not at all learned from the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Future disintegration is on the way... In hostile and war like conditions from which countries Russia will get immediate help from Finland,Poland,Ukraine,Estonia OR Kazakhstan,Turkmenistan,Uzbekistan. Muslims are part of Russian society and Russians should accept them as early as possible if not Western Powers are waiting to take rid of it......

by: Just_A_Thought_79 from: US
October 18, 2013 8:00 AM
I don't see anything wrong with this at all. If you study the muslim expansions throughout the last 1,500 years, you will see a systematic approach of friendly immigration, followed by vocal calls for more rights for muslims, followed by violence if those calls aren't met the way they want, then, if the violence is successful, suppression of every other way of life. Russians are smart to take a stand against muslims, I wish more Americans had a backbone like Russians.

by: chiminginwithtruth
October 17, 2013 11:51 AM
And now, you will not allow my comment to appear, because it is perfectly normal for the media to sensor the truth nowadays. I hope I'm wrong though, and you are in fact in favour of free speech.

by: chiminginwithtruth
October 17, 2013 11:49 AM
What are we to look forward to, once the Muslim populations grow even more? Status that is equal to how Christians are treated in Egypt? How about how Christians are treated in Pakistan? How about in Indonesia, particularly in the Aceh province, where Christians are being driven out? Arab Christians are currently leaving the Arab world - their homeland - in their droves. An Arab version of a 'pogrom'. So, VOA... why don't you report on this? Hmmmmm?

And, I've only covered the situation with Christians living in the Muslim world. What I have not covered is how atheists are treated there.

If you are an atheist and living in a Muslim country, do you let everyone know about your non-beliefs? The fact you were once a Muslim, but have now left that all behind? If you live in Pakistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Yemen, Egypt etc etc, do you talk about how you left Islam, and are now an atheist? No, you don't. You keep that to yourself, because at best, you will be disowned by your family. At worst, you will end up as a murder victim (as Muhammad said 'whoever leaves his Islamic religion, kill him'). Either way, persecution is as certain as sun rise & sun set.

by: chiminginwithtruth
October 17, 2013 11:48 AM
Muslims migrate to non-Muslim lands, then outbreed the non-Muslims that live there. This is how they take over countries. The same is happening in Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, China, India & many African and European countries. Gaddafi said 'We have 50 million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe - without swords, without guns, without conquest - will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades'.

by: Maithe from: Paris, France
October 16, 2013 2:17 PM
Pogroms?! What??
How can you use such a terrible word ?
I do hope you don't really know what you are talking about. And if you don't know it's amazing... for a foreign correspond based in Russia.
Go to any dictionary and have a look at Cossacks against Jews in Russia. And you will find : slaughters, destruction, cruelty. Death again and again.
It doesn't seem to me it's the case with Muslims in Moscow today.
In Response

by: Jim Brooke from: Moscow
October 16, 2013 2:56 PM
Pogrom is a word used by Russian analysts. Yes, it is overkill, but you had 2,000 migrants detained and hundreds of anti-Muslim rioters slapped on the wrist. A pale version of the Black Hundreds, but a lineal descendant. Jim Brooke/Chisinau

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs