MOSCOW, August 25 (Itar-Tass) — At their congress in Moscow on Saturday Russia’s muftis discussed plans for building mosques in Moscow and ways to boost the positive image of Islam in society.
The delegates re-elected Ravil Gainutdin as their chairman. He has been holding this post since 1996. Gainutdin said the number of mosques in Moscow should at least double in the next five years. “In other words, in addition to completing the construction of the Moscow cathedral mosque we should also build another four mosques in different parts of the city,” he said.
A memo for journalists presented at the congress advises members of mass media how to act in order not to insult Muslim’s feelings. “This is the first such document in our country. It will help members of mass media tell genuine Islamic notions from false ones. This is only a draft and it will be considered by the governmental authorities, including the Council for Interethnic Relations under the President of Russia,” Gainudtin’s Deputy Rushan Abbyasov said.
The 40-page brochure explains Islamic terms, gives information about the Muslim dress code and most common mistakes made by journalists.
Gainutdin also said that Moslem cartoons would soon be released in Russia in a bid to boost the positive image of Islam in society. “As far as interaction with society and enlightening are concerned, we plan to create a series of Muslim cartoons and radio and television programmes as well as different applications for smartphones, he said.
In addition, “with a view to developing contacts with mass media and promoting the objective image of Islam and Muslims in Russian media”, regular informal meetings with members of federal mass media will be held.
The Council has also increased its presence in social networks to this end. “There are more than 35,000 users in the Vkontakte network alone,” Gainutdin said.
A renovated website of the Council of Russia’s Muftis was presented on Saturday as well. There are also “over a dozen thematic sites covering Islamic economy, social and charitable activities, and international ties”, he said.
The congress delegates appointed Khadzhimurat Gatsalov, chairman of the Spiritual Muslim Board in North Ossetia, as new co-chairman of the Council, and confirmed the powers of Nafigula Ashirov, head of the Spiritual Muslim Board in the Asian part of Russia, Mukaddas Birbasov, head of the Spiritual Muslim Board in the Saratov region, and Nurmakhumet Nigmatullin, head of the Spiritual Muslim Board in Bashkortostan, as Council co-chairs.
According to the mufti’s report, there are 28 centralised organisations – spiritual boards within the Council, 2 associated allied members – spiritual Muslim boards, and 3 higher educational institutions. The Council will soon incorporate spiritual Muslim boards of the Trans-Baikal Territory, Kemerovo Region, Kirov Region, Irkutsk region, North-West, and the Koran Centre “Rashida” in Tatarstan. The Council also includes the non-profit television company “Islamic World”.
Gainutdin also said that the Council of Russia’s Muftis has lately signed international agreements on mutual understanding and cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank (Saudi Arabia) for an interest-free loan for universities; with Malaysia’s Islamic Call Organisation; the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs; the Chinese Muslim Association; Algeria’s Ministry Religious Affairs and Waqf; and the Tunisian Ministry of Religious Affairs.