Chaoyue/Flickr, 2014. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin recently said he did not want any more mosques being built in his city, claiming it would attract more Muslims. Such open displays of Islamophobia have been echoed elsewhere in Russia and show a deep rooted problem in the city of Moscow, which currently has a Muslim population of two million residents.

While there are two million Muslim residents living in Moscow, there are up to two million more Muslim migrant workers, most of who immigrated from Soviet Central Asia. As of today, there are only four public mosques in Moscow. With this shortage, Muslims have to wait hours to enter a mosque. Currently, only one new mosque is under construction.

The mayor made his decision that he will not be issuing any more permits to build further mosques. Sobyanin said that these Muslims are from outside the city and “don’t have the right to be catered to” since they are not Russian citizens. However, he admits that the city’s economy would not be able to manage without these Muslim workers.

With 2 million legal Muslim residents in Moscow the four mosques cannot hold more than 10 thousand people, so new mosques are needed. This is a case of basic civil rights because it neglects these citizen religious needs. These Muslims need to be given the ability to practice their religion.

The Olympic athletes for the Olympic 2014 winter games were however, given a place a pray. The Sochi Olympics organizing committee made sure that prayer rooms were available for athletes. Not only for Muslims, but prayer rooms were available for various religion followers such as Christianity, Hinduism, and so on.

More than 10,000 Muslims pray outside the mosques on Muslim holidays which shows that more mosques are needed. Lack of room is problematic because Muslims need enough space to properly pray. Blocking permits under the grounds that more mosques will attract more Muslims into the country is an unjust assumption, which only shows what little respect Sobyanin has for Russian Muslims and their religious needs.

While Moscow has four mosques, Sochi does not have any. Those 20,000 Muslims living in Sochi are living in a city where there is no space to practice their religion. The nearest mosque is more than a two hour drive from downtown Sochi. A drive there and back would take approximately 5 hours.

The Muslims living in Sochi have been campaigning for a mosque since 1996. In 2009, the Russian Muftis Council asked the prime minister for support to build a mosque in Sochi. The prime minister, Smitry Medvedev agreed to collaborate but the project was never followed through. Talks are still ongoing to finally build a mosque in Sochi, but it is highly doubtful that any mosque projects will be approved given the current political climate. Many other mosque building projects have been approved but subsequently overturned due to protests.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.


17 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article! It is very disturbing to hear that despite “two million Muslim residents living in Moscow and two million more Muslim migrant workers, there are only 4 mosques, and they have to wait hours to get in.” I strongly believe in religious freedom and I think that more sites of worship should be built so people have equal access to them.

  2. Honestly I think this is a basic human rights issue. If he doesn’t want to actively build mosques himself, fine, but he shouldn’t hinder others from that opportunity. Give the permits– that’s the LEAST you can do to make sure that people are free to practice their religion as they want.

    • When the religion as a whole is a threat to the greater society then no. That society does not need to allow propagation of said religion.

  3. Oooooohhhhhhhh……
    Only two mosques in Moscow?

    Well, guess what: There is not a single church on the whole persian peninsula. Anybody whining about that? No? Oh, that’s strange…. *scratch*

    @ Lycup:
    1) No mosque needed to practice islam, only a “Masdschid”, which can be any room available.
    2) The right to practice your religion is not a permission to annoy anyone (in this case: the non-muslim inhabitants of Moscow).

    • If you have a problem with there not being “a single church on the whole persian peninsula,” then you have all the right to voice your opinion and do something to change that. If you don’t have a problem with it, splendid. Also, I believe you are referring to the term Masjid, which is the Arabic word for Mosque.

      Maybe try picking up some sort of hobby, like golf. It’ll be a much better one than bashing harmless, informative articles with pointless and senseless comments behind the comfort of a computer screen.

  4. And how many churches and synagogues are there in many of the Muslim countries? Oh that’s right. It’s illegal to be a member of a non-Islamic religion!

    • If you have a problem with something, go do something productive to change it, instead of using it as ammo when you see someone else being proactive.

      This article isn’t insulting anyone–it simply is reporting on something that affects 2 million people.

  5. Well mosques are nothing but forward operating bases for the ummah as they scheme to destroy the infidel civilization. Why are they even 4? Why is that guy whining about establshing Muslim operations centers in infidel lands while Christians are being slaughtered by Muslims all over the world. We shouldn’t even allow Muslims to immigrate to infidel countries. The ummah if full of islamic paradises – Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt. They can go there and everybody is a Muslim and they can be happy. They have killed off the infidels there so they won’t be offended by seeing an infidel ever.

  6. Muslims love to play victims when they are the minority but they will do the same things they complain about to any other minority when muslims are the majority , In Egypt we can not repair a church bathroom without a presidential permit, 60 churches were burnt by muslim extremists last year alone, Russians are protecting their culture from the invasion that will destroy the western world in 50 years. Also ,…4 million muslims in Moscow are you sure? sound like Mecca not Moscow.

    • “…burnt by muslim extremists…”

      Islam doesn’t foster extremism, nor does it advocate terrorism. Just because those people may identify as Muslim does not mean their actions represent an entire religion. People may be corrupt, but Islam is not.

      • You’re kidding, right? Flying planes into buildings, blowing up hotels, setting off bombs in nightclubs in Bali, daily multiple car bombs going off each day in Iraq, etc is not considered by you to be extreme? Not to mention stoning women who were raped by your brothers in Islam. Islam is the most corrupt, sick, mindless excuse for a religion ever invented.

        • I sincerely suggest that you study the scripture. Have you ever studied Islam, or do you base your knowledge around what the media feeds you? I do not discriminate against my Christian or Jewish brothers and sisters because in Islam we are not taught those things. I have not blown myself up or flown into any buildings, either. Yet I am a practicing Muslim that believes in co-existance and peace, along with millions of other Muslims. It pains me to have to explain this.

          If you do not understand Islam, how can you be okay with making such broad, false statements?

          People may be corrupt; governments may be corrupt; entire nations may be corrupt, but Islam is not.

          Please, do not spread so much hate. I pray that God guides you and everyone else that comes to this site to attack these articles, and Insha Allah (God willing) you all will be able to rid yourselves of all this hate and bigotry.

          • Of course Samia, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who have interpreted their religion in a more humane way. But there are also tens of millions and probably hundreds of millions of Muslims who have interpreted it more closely to how it was originally interpreted which is – stoning adulterers, amputating hands of thieves, jihad against the infidels, whipping for not fasting on Ramaddan, etc.

            Muhammad was a conquering warlord, unlike the Buddha or Jesus, true men of peace.

  7. The Russians are protecting their culture from Islamic invasion, the west will pay a very heavy price for importing muslims to their land, wherever islam exist nothing but backwardness, terror,poverty and stagnation exist. Four houses of evil for 2 million potential terrorist.

  8. Ok.. so why not let all the muslims emigrate to iraq and Syria. We cant practice our religion here. And we cant migrate to practice it in a real islamic state. Very controlling and evil white man

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