Nationalists criticize idea of building more mosques in Russia

Nationalist organizations have criticized Moscow Chief Mufti Albir Krganov's initiative to build more mosques in Russia to accommodate the needs of the large inflow of immigrants from Muslim countries.

"This approach is not totally correct," chairman of the Russkiye movement's supervisory board Alexander Belov told Interfax on Tuesday.

"It is necessary to decide once and for all - whether Russia will turn into an Islamic state or will remain a secular state, where foreign immigrants come, find jobs and leave after their work is over," he said.

"If immigrants live no one knows where but want to build a mosque in my yard, this approach is certainly wrong," Belov said.

"It is necessary to restore order to the immigration processes and understand where, to which region foreign immigrants should come, where they are needed, and where roads should be built - in Moscow or in Siberia," he said.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Moscow's chief mufti proposed building new mosques in Russia in response to the massive inflow of immigrants from Muslim countries.

"We are troubled by the shortage of places to pray," he said.

"If the state is accepting such large numbers of immigrants today, we ought to sort out this issue as well," said Krganov, who also holds the post of deputy head of Russia's Spiritual Muslim Board.

"It is necessary to decide where they [immigrants] should live and who will work with them. If they do not come to official structures - the Spiritual Board, official mosques - they will be engaged in religious practices on their own in other places. And we will not know who preaches there and what they discuss," Krganov said.

For his part, Alexander Brod, the director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights and a Public Chamber expert, admitted that Muslims have a right to demand the construction of new mosques in the Russian capital.

"When driving past the Central Mosque during Muslim holidays, people complain of the roads crowded by worshippers. New mosques are needed. Let people build them and pray there quietly," Brod told Interfax on Monday.

This problem could be resolved through dialogue between the Moscow authorities and the Muslim clergy, he added.

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