MOSCOW, October 12 (Itar-Tass) — Members of the Council of Russian Muftis recognize the fact that most Moslem believers living and working in Moscow City at the moment are guest workers and labor migrants but the Islamic clerics believe nonetheless it is important to set up provisional facilities for prayer during the major Islamic feasts.
“We maintain permanent contacts with the Moscow City government on the issue so as to find a solution to how to remove crowds of people from downtown streets during festive prayers,” Deputy Chairman of the Council, Damir Gizatullin told Itar-Tass. “We ourselves aren’t satisfied with the situations where 70,000 to 80,000 people gather at the Metropolitan Mosque on Prospekt Mira avenue, the way it happened during this year’s Eid-ul-Fitr holiday.”
He said it in a comment on Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s explanations Thursday as to why he personally didn’t think the construction of more new mosques in this city was really needed.
“The need for building more new mosques isn’t an established fact,” the mayor said.
“An inspection has shown that the people gathering in this area /the city’s central mosque and the nearby site where a new mosque is being built – Itar-Tass/ are not residents of Moscow by and large,” Sobyanin said.
“Two-thirds of them are not registered in Moscow because they either live in the Moscow region or are guest workers who very often don’t have even temporary residential licenses,” he said. “Were the mosques visited by Muscovites only, there would be no especially huge crowds of people there.”
Sobyanin said the city authorities have not passed any definitive decision yet on whether or not to build a new mosque in Mitino, one of Moscow City’s largest bedroom communities located on its western outskirts, since residents of the district raised objections to the project.
“A special commission passed a decision on selecting a plot of land for the construction of any church building there,” he said, adding along with it that the city’s legislation has changed and the current regulation requires consent to such projects on the part of local self-government agencies.
That is why a decision could be taken after two stages of coordination efforts as a minimum. However local residents organized protests.
“We heeded their intentions and cancelled the decision even at the preliminary stage,” Sobyanin said.
Mufti Gizatullin said the mayor had made his comments with regard to a concrete situation – the protests of Mitino residents against construction of a mosque. He agreed that the specificity of each situation should be taken account of.
“Quite recently, a mass prayer was held for the first time in the golf course of the Luzhniki stadium compound,” he said. “Also, we’ve started holding feasts in a park in Yuzhnoye Butovo /the southern outskirts of the city/, while another Moslem organization is holding them in the pavilion of the Sokolniki park.”
He also mentioned the courses of the Russian language and culture, which the Council of Russian Muftis organizes in the town of Mytishchi near Moscow.