11 October 2010, 10:13
Council of Muftis demand explanation for blocking access to Moscow Cathedral Mosque
Moscow, October 11, Interfax - The Russian Council of Muftis intends to file a claim with the Moscow prosecutor's office on Monday requesting a probe into the blocking of access to Moscow Cathedral Mosque by the OMON special task police, the Council's press secretary Gulnur Gaziyeva told Interfax-Religion.
On Friday, the OMON special task police blocked all major roads leading to the mosque, pushing worshippers on to tramlines, the Council of Muftis reported on its website. Worshippers, who lost access to their usual prayer spaces on the sidewalks near the mosque, had to go on to the part of the street intended for transport.
Muslims started expressing their dissatisfaction with the situation, which, according to Gaziyeva, could have potentially led to riots.
"It was a dangerous situation when a crowd came for the Friday prayer and saw police cordons in their way," Gaziyeva said.
The riots were prevented with help from imams and the prayers proceeded calmly. The meeting participants also collected signatures in support of the construction of a mosque in the Moscow district of Tekstilschiki.
"The cordons were removed after the prayer and the police and the administration of the sports palace did not make any apologies. The Muslims who come to Cathedral Mosque said they are confident that they will not only receive explanations, but will not be faced with such violations in the future," the Council of Muftis said.
The Moscow police declined to comment on the police actions.
Zhanna Ozhimina, press officer for the Moscow OMON special task police, told Interfax that some twenty OMON policemen were on duty near the mosque. "The OMON policemen were in reserve," she said.
Ozhimina said security in the mosque area was ensured by officials from the interior affairs department of the Moscow Central Administrative District.
In the meantime, it was reported last month that some 55,000 Muslims had come to Cathedral Mosque on September 9 to celebrate Uraza-Bairam, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Worshippers then flooded the streets leading to the mosque, placing down carpets they had brought from home, an Interfax correspondent reported. The sermon and prayer by Council of Muftis head Ravil Gainutdin was broadcast via loudspeakers installed inside the mosque.