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

Afghan Government Says Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in 2013

President Ashraf Ghani's office confirms Omar died in 2013, although Taliban sources continue to deny reclusive leader has been dead for more than two years More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

Critics: China’s President Using Law to Tighten Grip on Power

President Xi, who has stressed importance of 'rule of law' and law-based governance, has exerted increasingly tighter grip over society since coming to office 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs