Molotov cocktails thrown at mosque in Crimea

Unknown vandals have attacked Chukurcha-Jami mosque in Crimea, drawing Nazi swastikas before setting the mosque on fire in a new provocation to Crimea’s Tatar Muslim, Crimean News Agency reported on Friday, June 13.

The attack which occurred on Thursday, June 12, was caught on surveillance cameras video which showed men throwing Molotov cocktails.

Imam of Simferopol Muhammed Islamov said the incident was a provocation and the guilty would be found soon.

The attack is not the first on the mosque which faced another hate attack in 2004.

OnIslam, 13 June 2014

Discrimination Olympics: Meddling with Muslims in Sochi

During its buildup, NBC’s Bob Costas stated that the Sochi Games will, “take place against a backdrop of questions about policy differences, security, cost overruns and human rights issues, including Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law”.

The firestorm against Sochi’s brazen homophobia leading up and during the Olympics was fierce, capped by President Barack Obama sending a US delegation led by openly gay athletes. The message, from news desks and the Oval Office, was clear – the US opposed the structural homophobia built into the Sochi Olympics.

No similar statements were made of the pervasive Islamophobia encircling the Games. Rather, the media and political rhetoric in the US toward Muslims and Islam are aligned with those of Russia, and linked inextricably to terrorism. American misalignment with Russia’s per se homophobia, and its converging interests with Moscow’s framing of Muslim threat, highlights the ever more relevant observation of Derrick Bell, who held that: “Domestic civil rights policies are only promoted when they advance majoritarian (white) interests abroad.”

The policing of Muslims stateside, and its nexus to the “global war on terrorism”, has – in large part – erased word of Sochi’s brazen Islamophobia from news headlines, and hushed the US government from calling into question the religious freedoms of Muslims in Russia.

Khaled A. Beydoun explains why Putin’s Islamophobic policies pervade the Winter Olympics at Sochi.

Al Jazeera, 17 February 2014

Why Sochi has no mosques

SochiRussian president Vladimir Putin calls Sochi, site of February’s Winter Olympics, “the biggest construction site on the planet,” and for good reason.

Since being awarded the games in 2007, the sub-tropical Black Sea city has built 442 miles of fiber-optic cables, 200 miles of roads, 55 bridges, 13 train stations, nine hotels for media outlets, six post offices, five schools, a new airport, a $265 million ski jump, a bobsled track, a ski course, two Olympic villages, an 815-acre floating archipelago, and a partridge in a pear tree.

But one item on local residents’ wish list was met with a pocket veto—a request to build a mosque for Sochi’s 20,000 Muslim residents, many of whom have migrated to the city over the last decade to take jobs building the Olympic facilities.

The mosque issue has long been a sore spot in Sochi, where Muslim leaders have been pushing for a new place to worship since 1996. “I’m so tired of writing letters – whole files – it just drags on and on,” a Muslim organizer told the Norwegian news organization Forum 18 in 2006. One decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, the city’s Muslims were still holding religious ceremonies in cramped basements.

In a 2009 visit to Moscow’s Cathedral Mosque, the nation’s largest, then-president Dmitry Medvedev was asked by the head of the Russian Mufties Council if would support a Sochi mosque project. Medvedev said yes. But in the years since, talks between Muslim leaders and the city government have largely fizzled.

But city leaders, such as deputy mayor Anatoli Rykov, have argued that there’s already a mosque nearby – 50 miles outside the city in the mountain village of Tkhagapsh, population 180. Tkhagapsh is 2 hours and 27 minutes by car from downtown Sochi, and the city’s brand new light rail line, hubbed at the country’s newest, largest train station, doesn’t go there. The mosque is a one-room wood-frame building.

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Moscow Muslims condemn warning about terrorists in mosques

A group of Moscow muftis is demanding city authorities officially retract a warning about potential suicide bombers’ unusual behavior in mosques and the description of prayer sites as terrorist meeting places.

Mufti Hazrat Gizatullin, the deputy head of the official Muslim organization for European Russia, said in an interview with Izvestia daily that representatives of his organization intended to send an official protest to the Moscow city Department Of Interethnic And Inter-Religious Cooperation.

The move was prompted by several district councils posting a document on their websites in which they detailed signs that could indicate preparations for terrorist attacks.

“Suicide bombers can be distinguished in mosques by their more exalted behavior, close to meditation, by a deeper immersion into religious ecstasy. Besides, the mosques can be meeting places for members of terrorist cells. One can always stay for a night in a mosque or strike a deal with other persons unsuspecting about the real goals behind such contacts,” the warning reads.

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Application to hold rally against Islamophobia in Moscow will be rejected

City Hall plans to turn down a petition by Muslim activists to hold a rally “against Islamophobia and Caucasus-phobia” on Manezh Square, a Moscow security official said.

The area “doesn’t have the conditions for holding mass actions,” the city’s regional security department head Alexei Mayorov said, adding that an official ruling would be issued later, Interfax reported.

Rally organizers said in their petition, filed Monday, that they expected the event to attract 1 million people, Moskovsky Komsomolets reported.

The meeting’s rejection follows news that of one of the rally organizers – Dagestani activist Mukhammad Magomedov – saying that security officials charged him last week with “participating in an extremist group,” and banned him from leaving his native region. The charges carry a punishment of up to two years in prison.

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Terrorism heightens Islamophobia in Russia

"Русский марш - 2013" в Москве
Nationalist demonstration in Moscow in November 2013

A spate of terrorist attacks in southern Russia related to jihadist and anti-Russian insurgencies in the North Caucasus have not only led to heightened security measures, they have also contributed to a rising Islamophobic sentiment amongst many ethnic Russians.

This trend has been epitomized by the release on YouTube of a video purporting to show Russian football fans burning a Koran and forcing an apparently-beaten man of Central Asian appearance to repeat “I renounce Allah.” According to the video, the Russians were fans of Moscow’s CSKA soccer club, whose followers have previously been linked with ultra-nationalist chants and violence.

While the police are investigating the case – which could lead to charges of extremism or spreading religious hatred, punishable by up to 5 years in prison – this is symptomatic of a general problem. These inter-communal tensions have already exploded into large-scale conflicts, in Kondopoga in 2006, Moscow’s Manezh Square in 2010 and the capital’s Biryulevo neighborhood in 2013.

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Kaliningrad court halts mosque construction

Kaliningrad mosqueThe Central District Court has halted construction of the mosque on two land lots in the Southern Park of Kaliningrad, Rosbalt reports.

Kaliningrad City – the Museum of Fridlanskiye Vorota filed a lawsuit against the construction. The organization believes that the Kaliningrad head granted free land for the mosque and the road to it on August 3, 2009, illegally. The court has halted the construction and will be studying documents for construction of the mosque.

Locals residents have been protesting against the mosque construction. A 20-year-old welder attempted to blow up the mosque in November 2011.

Vestnik Kavkaza, 3 December 2013

Islamophobia in Russia

"Русский марш - 2013" в Москве
Nationalist demonstration in Moscow last month

The election in August 2013 of Sergei Sobyanin, an ultranationalist, as mayor of Moscow has given racism in Russia a prominent official face. Then last week, the mayor stunned the world by announcing that Moscow was banning the construction of new mosques. The ban was one of the latest and clearest signs of the growing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments in Russia.

The four existing mosques in Moscow are overcrowded, but Mayor Sobyanin declared that no new mosques would be built because “they are used by migrant workers,” according to the Christian Science Monitor. A new mosque is currently under construction, but there won’t be any more, the mayor said. He told the Russian daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, “No new building permits will be issued. I think that’s enough mosques for Moscow.”

There are an estimated 2 million Muslim residents in the city, but none of Moscow’s four existing mosques can hold more than 10,000 people. Worshippers frequently have to use the streets or wait for hours to enter the existing mosques, especially on Fridays and religious occasions.

Russian Muslim activists say that Russian authorities have long tried to prevent construction of new mosques, but this is the first clear ban in recent memory.

Although most pronounced in Moscow, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant racism is not confined to the capital city. According to the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, surveys show that xenophobia and other racist expressions are prevalent among 50 percent of Russians. Amnesty International has reported that racism in Russia was “out of control” and estimated the number of Russian neo-Nazis in the tens of thousands.

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Woman murdered and mutilated with cross symbols in Moscow – police

A woman from Russia’s predominantly Muslim region of Dagestan was found murdered in Moscow, with symbols of the cross slashed on her body, police said Sunday.

The woman’s body was found on a staircase in an apartment building in the southwest of the city on Saturday night, a police source said. “The dead woman was slashed on her arms, knees and stomach, with cross-shaped figures,” the source said.

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Moscow mayor: No more mosques in my city

Sergei Sobyanin with PatriarchNo more mosques will be built in Moscow, despite the huge crowds that swamp the city’s four public mosques on Muslim holidays, because they are mainly used by temporary workers, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has decided.

In an interview with the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda on Wednesday, Mr. Sobyanin said that Moscow has about two million foreign residents, the vast bulk of them migrant workers from former Soviet Central Asia who are mainly Muslim. The city’s economy “could not manage without them,” he admitted.

But he insisted that the vast throngs of Muslims who fill Moscow streets and wait, often for many hours, to enter the city’s few existing mosques are mostly people who come from outside the city limits and therefore have no right to be catered to.

“Muslim believers who come on religious holidays come from other regions. Between 60 and 70 percent of them are outsiders. We cannot provide for all comers. I think it’s not necessary,” Sobyanin said.

One new mosque is presently under construction in Moscow, but that’s the end of it, he added. “No new building permits will be issued. I think that’s enough mosques for Moscow.”

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