2006-01-22 22:16:00

Alexander Antonov.
The temple of our discontent

After the recent attack on the synagogue, the law-enforcement in Russia have serious concerned themselves with the problem of security of worship buildings. But is it feasible at all to secure them against attacks?


For the last twenty years, temples of Orthodox Christians, Muslim, Jews and Buddhists have repeatedly suffered attacks and vandalism. Almost every month, reports come about a fascist graffiti painted on the wall of a synagogue, a chapel raided or a Buddhist stupa defiled. There are also tragic accidents. Thus, the rectors of Orthodox parishes in Tura, Evenkia, and Tyrnauz, Kabardino-Balkaria, were brutally killed in their churches; Archpriest Petr Sukhonosov, dean of Ingushetia, was hijacked by Arbi Barayev's militants right from the sanctuary and died later in captivity, while Said-Muhammad Abubakarov, Mufti of Dagestan, was mined in the courtyard of the Cathedral Mosque in Makhachkala. Many of the 30 imams killed in Chechnya were murdered in mosques.

Still the Russian temples appear much safer than Iraqi mosques or Indonesian churches. It is just a miracle that terrorists have not chosen them as their priority targets as yet. Indeed, the simplest way to blast the situation in a problematic region is to carry out consistent attacks on the temples of its major religions.

It is no secret that temples throughout the world present the most vulnerable targets from the point of view of terrorists, hooligans, vandals and mere burglars. Only the most significant of them are guarded properly, equipped with metal detectors and alarms. But it should not be forgotten that many religious leaders are against increased security because it will cause discomfort to their parishioners. Therefore, the maximum of what the state can do in this respect is to minimize the risk of attack on worship buildings by organized groups whose action can be foreseen and prevented. But it is only a chance that can save anything from insane loners who themselves do not know what they will do in five minutes.

It should be admitted that the organization of security for every temple in Russia is essentially a utopia as it will require hundreds of millions of dollars and dozens of thousands of new security guards. Even the Jewish community, rich and taught by a bitter experience as it is, can hardly organize an effective protection of all its facilities, which are quite few compared to the thousands of Orthodox churches or Muslim mosques. Unfortunately, there is still no panacea for such people as Koptsev or Barayev. And this is a reality of our time.