July 31, 2021

Putin inaugurates the Great Mosque of Moscow

A text by Raymond Saint-Pierre

In all the descriptions of this new mosque, we find several times the word “sumptuous”. It is true that the edifice is spectacularly beautiful, surmounted by an enormous golden dome, with its marble walls, adorned with malachite, turquoise and gold. Its 72-meter-high minarets are inspired by Stalinist architecture. The six-storey building can accommodate 10,000 worshipers in this 19,000 square meter space.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was surrounded for this inauguration by many heads of government, such as the Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas, and many religious leaders.

Auto accident

It is fate that wanted this mosque of more than 170 million dollars to be financed in large part by the Russian and Muslim billionaire, Suleiman Kerimov.

On November 26, 2006, he survived a serious accident in his Ferrari, on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The event had raised many comments. He was accompanied by a Russian television presenter, married and a mother. Suleiman Kerimov was badly burned in the accident and received treatment in Belgium. He gave $ 100 million for the construction of this mosque, in recognition, for having survived.

The Muslim presence in Moscow and Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of the Council of Muftis of Russia Ravil Gainutdin at the inauguration of the Grand Mosque in Moscow.View larger image (New window)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of the Council of Muftis of Russia Ravil Gainutdin at the inauguration of the Grand Mosque in Moscow.

Photo : RIA Novosti / Reuters

This inauguration took place two days before the Eid el-Kebir feast and once again Muscovites will realize that, despite the addition of this new and vast place of worship, it is far from being there. enough mosques to meet the needs in the Russian capital.

There are three million practicing Muslims in Moscow, including one million workers from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. In fact, there are more practicing Muslims in Moscow than practicing Orthodox Christians.

During the great Muslim festivals, the faithful come to pray by the tens of thousands in the six mosques of the city. Too cramped, they spill over into the neighboring streets sowing discontent among residents of the neighborhood and creating a movement of resistance to the construction of new mosques.

According to a recent poll by the Levada Institute, an independent center, only 4% of Muscovites are in favor of building a mosque in their neighborhood.

So, why still promote the construction of mosques in Moscow?

There are 20 million Muslims all over Russia. Thousands of young people from this community went to fight in Syria (from 2,000 to 7,000 jihadists, according to various estimates). In an interview with the Tribune de Genève, Alexei Malashenko, of the Carnegie Center in Moscow, declared that “Putin wants to control his Muslim population inside the country and by defending Islam, to send a message to the West”. In short, the Kremlin needs officially controlled places of prayer.

Vladimir Putin is increasingly involved in the Muslim world, especially in Syria in recent days, where he has deployed weapons and troops.

He poses as a defender of Islam against Western countries, at home and in the Middle East.