The population of Russia is about 132 million. Twenty million of them are Muslims. It appears like a small minority. But it is an ideologically and religiously homogeneous minority. All identify themselves as practicing Muslims.
Though Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Georgians and Armenians are from traditionally Christian ethnic groups and make up the majority of the population of contemporary Russian Federation, only 4.5% of Russian citizens (less then 6 million) identify themselves as Orthodox Christian.
According to the latest reports, the population of Moscow is over 11 million. Only 31% of them are Russians. There are 4,620,000 Russians, Ukrainians and Byelorussians combined in Moscow – less then half of the population. There is no official statistics of the amount of Muslims in Moscow, but traditionally Muslim ethnic groups represent 33% of Moscow population. More than Russians!
On July 28 Moscow Muslims were celebrating Eid al-Fitr, one of the main Islamic holidays. At this date usually about 100,000 Muslims go out to the city streets for morning prayers.
This year the event was photographed by a popular Russian blogger, Ilya Varlamov (I wrote about him in NewsLanc.)
Here are some of his photographs:
These prayers in the streets make life of ordinary citizens difficult. Here are some Muscovites crossing the street in order to get to their job.
The following quotes are from an Eid al-Fitr sermon by Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gaynutdin, President of the Council of Muftis of Russia :
“Why in modern Europe that for thousands of years has been giving to the world renowned scientists and which used to be the home of many talented, gifted people… why today is a woman, an indigenous European woman, strolling through well-groomed park, passing rich stores windows, with a dog in her hands; yet meanwhile a Muslim family is walking surrounded by kids, pushing a stroller?
“And why are such Muslim families sometimes rejected by Europeans, despite the famous European tolerance? Why is there no respect in some countries or adoptions by non-traditional couples?
“Why are churches closing but the number of mosques increasing in Europe?
“True family values, love for and joy of children and honoring one’s parents, unfortunately, are largely lost in Europe.
“The number of Muslims who practice the values of monotheism, who follow the instructions of the Almighty, the same for all of God’s creations, is growing.”
These anti–European ideas are very close to Putin’s official propaganda. It explains why the Muslim street prayers are tolerated in Moscow. But not all the Russians approve of it.
Here are some of the Internet reactions by those seeing the photos of the Muslim prayer:
“Well… There are probably less Mohammedans in Saudi Arabia than in our poor Moscow”.
“Yea, folks… And you’re talking about Ukrainian Fascists? These guys wouldn’t be able to tell you from an Ukrainian. Wake up before its too late; think whether you are fighting the right enemy. Are your enemies the Ukrainians? Or is it somebody else?”