2005-12-06 11:05:00

Statement by the Orthodox public on Silantyev's book

We, Orthodox scholars, journalists, politicians and public figures, are astonished at the well-organized but clearly inadequate reaction of some Islamic and semi-Islamic circles to Roman Silantyev's book A Modern History of the Islamic Community in Russia. Despite Silantyev's repeated statements that he has published his monograph as an independent researcher, rather than executive secretary of the Interreligious Council in Russia or a staff member of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, some Muslim leaders, speaking in rude terms, have demanded explanations from the Russian Orthodox Church.

We reiterate that Roman Silantyev's monograph has been written with all respect for both Islam and its followers. Certainly, there are descriptions of disagreeable pages in the history of the Russian Muslims, but all the facts of this kind have been already publicized in the course of public polemics among Muslim leaders. Despite the prevalence of negative materials about the life of Russian Islam in available sources, the author of A Modern History of the Islamic Community in Russia has put emphasis on precisely the positive sides of the Islamic revival by giving a detailed description of its milestones.

It is not difficult to guess who stands behind the unprecedented hysterics shaking now the Islamic and semi-Islamic mass media. It has happened so that Silantyev has flayed sheep's clothing from wolves to show the true faces of those who wanted to seize power in Russian Islam. Now these people who sought to become sole rulers of the Russian umma should think whether they should be ashamed of their past, of betraying close relatives, teachers and associates, of curtseying bandits and terrorists, of insulting non-Muslims.

Russian Islam is seriously ill today. Almost all the Muslim mass media have been seized by the Wahhabis, who throw mud at moderate muftis who are now a minority, while the intemperate have been caught in a real epidemic of hatred towards the Orthodox. Let us recall how 'Supreme Mufti of the Asian Russia' Nafigulla Ashirov, expressed support for the barbarous destruction of Buddha's statues by the Talibs and threatened with 'a second Chechnya' if the Basic Orthodox Culture is introduced in schools, while in Chechnya itself the Basic Islamic Culture is taught as a compulsory discipline; how 'Imam of Transvolga Region' Mukaddas Bibarsov, whom his own mufti father declared a Wahhabi, urged to meet the demands of Movsar Baraev and condemned the elimination of terrorist Maskhadov and took an active part in the propagation of the apocryphal Gospel of Barnabas; how 'politically correct' was Nizhni Novgorod Mufti Umar Idrisov when he accused the Orthodox clergy of organizing the massacre of Tartar children during the capture of Kazan and equated the events of 1552 with the seizure of the school in Beslan; how Christian apostate Polosin, not at all embarrassed by his high position in the Council of Muftis in Russia, published troglodytic anti-Christian leaflets calling to an immediate Islamization of the Russians.

Let us recall also the calls to destroy all the 'anchor' crosses, to burn in crematoriums all children born in mixed marriages, to remove Christian symbols from the Russian National Emblem, to prohibit the construction of churches and chapels in Tatarstan. Let us recall the ardent apology of terrorism, the declaration of filicides as shahids without inverted commas and direct acquiescence to militants. Let us recall the slander cast by several muftis on His Holiness the Patriarch, Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna, Metropolitan Sergiy of Voronezh and Borisoglebsk, the late Archbishop Mikhey of Yaroslavl and Rostov, Archbishop Dmitry of Tobolsk and Tyumen, Archbishop Maximillian of Vologda and Valiky Ustyug, Archbishp Simon of Murmansk and Monchegorsk, Bishop Feofan of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz and many other hierarchs of our Church.

Several days ago, representatives of the Jewish community in Russia expressed the desire to pose the question about anti-Semitic attacked made by several Islamic leaders. We believe the Orthodox side also has the right to voice similar grievances and to demand an assessment of such statements. We also call upon the ruling bishops of the dioceses of Nizhni Novgorod, Saratov, Astrakhan, Cheboksary and Petrozavodsk to make a critical assessment of the assurances of friendship and respect made by local muftis and to take into account the fact that they have made diametrically opposite statements in other audiences.

In conclusion we would like to emphasize that the above-mentioned facts should not make Orthodox people Islamophobic. Nobody should be afraid of Muslims. Those Muslims who call to peaceful coexistence among religions have respect for Christianity and who do not spare their lives to prevent the spread of extremism deserve the most profound respect. But those who dream of building a 'world caliphate' on Orthodox bones are in fact adepts of wicked and marginal sects which cannot raise any feelings except those of abhorrence. Do not believe the propagandist myths about 'the inevitable Islamization of Russia' as millions of ethnic Muslims have embraced the Holy Baptism, while 'Russian Muslims' cannot make up for their tiny number even by the savage grudge against whose who think differently. Do not forget that only 5% of the citizens in Russia claim to be Muslims, and this figure has remained unchanged throughout the last years; that true Orthodox families have fewer children than Muslim ones and, most importantly, that the strong Orthodox community and its Church are the main guarantees of interreligious peace in our country.

Union of Orthodox Citizens
Radonezh Orthodox Society and others
December 6, 2005