2009-12-01 16:53:00

Renowned religious expert urges not to dramatize Swiss ban on minarets

Moscow, December 1, Interfax - Renowned religious expert and author of numerous works on history of modern Islam Roman Silantyev understands the ban on the construction of minarets in Switzerland and urged not to dramatize the decision.

"There's no need to dramatize the situation. Swiss Minister of Justice clearly explained this vote was not aimed against Muslims as such, but against extremist Muslims because this problem exists although Europe," Silantyev told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.

According to him, Swiss understood that it was not the matter "of satisfying religious needs of Muslims, but an attempt of aggressive expansion and decided to terminate it."

"Presence or absence of a minaret in no way influences the ability of Muslims to pray. Earlier believers were summoned to prayer from minarets, today almost everyone has watches, cellular phones, alarm clocks. Minarets have lost their function, thus obsessive desire to build minarets puts many people on guard," the religious expert believes.

He pointed out Muslim countries often "exile most religiously unreliable elements and these people certainly don't leave for Africa, they go to developed countries where they're warmly welcomed, but they don't value such reception, they don't understand they've come on a visit and should respect traditions and customs of these countries."

"Pompous mosques, especially with lofty minarets, are often positioned not as a place of prayer, but as provoking symbols of presence and that's exactly the point of some Arab countries when they build bigger mosques than are really needed for communities, mosques "to grow into," the expert said.

He noted that he can recall two dozens of analogical cases in Russia when "such kind of hypermosques not correlated to size of Muslim community were to be built in some Russian cities and only the threat of national vote abandoned such plans."