Muslim Velikiy Novgorod20.11.2012 | 18:55
In Novgorod, Muslims constitute absolute religious minority. Basically, visitors Chechens and labor migrants from Central Asia profess the religion of Mohammed here. Until recently, local Muslims were satisfied with the prayer room. This summer, in Novgorod there appeared talk that the Muslim community now was not satisfied with a little room - they decided to build a mosque. Russian Novgorod residents are dead set against the idea. And Muslims claim: the construction of a mosque in the ancient Novgorod - this is an important political step, which may affect the fate of the Russians in the Caucasus. Novgorod residents Vadim Beriashvili and Mayarbek Abuezidov told the "Big Caucasus" about this.
Vadim Beriashvili, a resident of Velikiy Novgorod, social activist.
"The fact of appearance of a mosque in a purely Russian city could provoke religious tensions. Residents have noticed that some of the guests from Central Asia are rude in public. Reports about crimes committed by migrant worker have become more often ... Thank God, ethnic crime has not acquired an epidemic scale, because there is not so many labor migrants in Novgorod.
Novgorod is historically orthodox city. Saint Sophia Cathedral is the oldest Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Mosques, just like the Muslims, have never been here. The sudden appearance of a request for a mosque - this is a consequence of the migration policies of the last twenty years. Up to this point the authorities have not considered all sorts of requests of those seeking mosque serious.
Islamic diaspora, mainly consisting of labor migrants from Central Asia, is strengthening its position in Novgorod. Until recently, they were content with the prayer room, also attended by the Novgorod Chechens. In the summer of 2012, Muslim community of the city raised the issue of mosque construction. For help Muslim activists appealed to Ramzan Kadyrov - the head of the constituent territory, which is almost two thousand kilometers from the Novgorod region.
I have nothing against Muslims and Islam, as well as respectful attitude to other nationalities. But my position is unequivocal - Mosque is not needed in Velikiy Novgorod. Muslim community is small, and I think it is not necessary to build a mosque for the needs of migrant workers.
Mayarbek Abuezidov, a Chechen, a resident of Velikiy Novgorod.
"We do not want a mosque exactly with a dome, a minaret and crescents. No matter what it would be: a prayer room, a house or a classic mosque. We need the sponsorship of the Russian Muslims, and therefore appeal to the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. Essentially, our appeal was not an appeal as such. I have interviewed a Novgorod entrepreneur, Chechen Adlan Dudayev. The material about the needs of Muslims of the Novgorod region, then published in the media, was a public appeal to Kadyrov. They told us later that we would have better written a letter to the Office of the Head of Chechnya, the Fund of Akhmad Kadyrov; but decided to stop on the publication in the media. We wanted the head of Chechnya to somehow help with the construction of the premises for prayer.
I want to note - Chechens appealed to Kadyrov as the Russians to a representative of power, not as the countrymen to an influential countryman.
We believe that the voice of the Chechens of Russia should be heard by the authorities of the Russian Federation. Chechens are the indigenous people of Russia, the third largest. Appeal to Kadyrov was, in fact, an appeal to all citizens of our country: if you can, help the Chechens of Novgorod region in the construction of a mosque. Many Muslims of Novgorod region do not really know to what Muslim leader they better appeal, so they write to those whose names are known in the Muslim community, or do not write to anyone hoping for the Almighty.
Many Novgorod residents do not want to see a mosque in their city. I understand this reaction. But Russia is a multinational and multi-religious country. Look at today's Chechnya. Russian population has returned there, and the government of the republic helps the immigrants. Yes, there is no many Russian repatriates, but in the future there will be more of them. It is possible that in Grozny there will soon live 100 or 200-thousand Russian population, which would require opening of the Orthodox schools, products consecrated the Orthodox rite, and so on. Now in Grozny they do not sell pork, but the Russian people may require selling it. I believe that the government of the republic will not put any obstacles neither to new Orthodox parishes nor the orthodox schools or "Orthodox" products, since Russians are full-fledged citizens of Chechnya, and together Russians and Chechens are Russian citizens".