Mosques have become battlegrounds in more places than one can imagine. In the West, regimes are refusing permission for Muslims to open new mosques. In the US, there were planned protests against mosques in many cities last weekend. They fizzled out when few people showed up. In Russia, meanwhile, a grand mosque was opened in Moscow by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now that is an interesting turnaround.
Tuesday October 13, 2015, 13:19 DST
While western governments have imposed restrictions on the opening of mosques in their countries, Russia is forging ahead welcoming them. This is quite a turnaround in the attitude of various regimes. For decades, the West painted Russia as a “totalitarian state” that did not allow religious freedoms. The West touted its plurality and openness. No more. Muslims are under attack everywhere.
This mosque will become an extremely important spiritual centre for Muslims in Moscow and the whole Russia...
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin opened one of Europe’s biggest mosques in Moscow, warning against the lure of extremists.
Also present were Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the 20,000-square metre mosque was opened in the Russian capital.
“This mosque will become an extremely important spiritual centre for Muslims in Moscow and the whole Russia,” Putin said in a speech that was broadcast on television. “It will be a source for education, spreading humanist ideas and the true values of Islam.”
Putin lashed out at extremist groups for their “attempts to cynically exploit religious feelings for political ends,” referring to the takfiri terrorists rampaging through Syria and Iraq. “We see what is happening in the Middle East where terrorists from the so-called ISIL group are compromising a great world religion, compromising Islam, in order to sow hate,” he said.
The takfiri terrorists are backed by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Last month, Russia launched air strikes against these takfiri terrorists who are now on the run.
The mosque has turquoise-domes reviving Central Asian architecture that has made its mark in places like Samarqand and Bukhara. The mosque can accommodate more than 10,000 worshippers built at a cost of $170 million.
Taking more than a decade to complete it will help to serve Russia’s estimated 20 million Muslims. These are local Muslims as well as those that have come from places like Chechnya and Azerbaijan and are working in Moscow.