The Russian capital Moscow is growing increasingly Islamic, as the number of Muslims in the city has increased to over 1.5 million over the past decade, according to Russia’s chief of imams.
There are hundreds of mosques in Russia, but not enough to accommodate the huge number of worshippers, forcing many to pray on the streets.
According to experts, the number of Muslims in the city has grown dramatically in the past two decades due to increased migration from predominantly Muslim Central Asia, Azerbaijan and Russia’s North Caucasus.
“The real number is definitely higher,” said Alexei Malashenko, an expert at the Carnegie Endowment. “This includes both Muslims who live here as well as registered migrants. We simply do not have exact statistics.”
The city has permitted the existence of only four mosques, none of which can fit more than 10,000 people.
“A large number of migrant workers come to our mosques, there are only four of them in Moscow now of course they are overcrowded and most of our believers pray outside, in the rain, in the sleet,” said Iman Rushan Abbyasov, deputy head of the council of muftis.
In July 2015, More than 60,000 Muslims gathered at the square and five temporarily blocked streets around Moscow's main mosque, with an additional 180,000 gathering at four other mosques and three dozen temporary sites in Moscow and the greater Moscow region, to mark the end of this year's holy month of Ramadan, police said.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia had only 100 mosques left. Some 8,000 were built in the past 24 years, but not in Moscow. The official census data from 2010 suggests there are over 400,000 Muslims living in the Russian capital.
Muftis put the number of Muslims in Moscow at 1.5 million. If they are right, the Russian capital has the second-largest Muslim population after Paris, which, with 1.7 million Muslims, hosts the largest population of any European city.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has ruled out building more mosques, saying it would be “over the top.” He added that Muscovites are becoming irritated by people who speak a different language and have different customs. The statement provoked anger among Muslims.
In contrast to mosques, churches in Moscow have flourished in recent years.
With an official population of 12.5 million, Russia's capital is now home to at least 1.5 million Muslims, according to political analyst Alexei Malashenko. This is by far more than the Muslim population of any other European city where the local population is not predominantly Muslim.
Russian-born or immigrant, secular or practicing, Muslims don't feel welcome here. This is partly due to the fact that many Russians feel threatened by this influx of Muslims in the country.
There are only two halal hotels in the city that sees millions of visitors a year and only a handful of Muslim kindergartens or schools in Moscow.. Tags: #Muslim-minorities #Russia #
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