Vienna, October 17 – Vladimir Putin is “the hope of defense of the Muslim world,” Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said today, after the Russian prime minister paid a visit Grozny as part of his inspection tour of earthquake damage in the North Caucasus on the eve of the opening of the largest mosque in Europe.
Kadyrov’s encomium (news.politsovet.ru/n_news.asp?article=26879) followed Putin’s comment yesterday that the new mosque is something in which “not only the residents of Chechnya but all Muslims of Russia can take pride,” and the Russian leader praised its role in promoting inter-confessional dialogue (www.interfax-religion.ru/islam/?act=news&div=26957).
(During his visit to the Chechen capital, Putin “in spite of the expectations of journalists” did not visit the city street that Kadyrov recently renamed in his honor, a move that has angered some Russian nationalists because of the implication that “Putin” is more important than “Victory” which is the name the street had earlier (www.islam.ru/rus/2008-10-16/#23297).
Putin was only one of the more than 2500 guests from various parts of the Russian Federation and abroad who have come to Chechnya to mark the opening of this new mosque named for the late Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov and large enough for 10,000 worshippers at any one time (www.interfax-religion.ru/islam/?act=news&div=26967).
The mosque itself, which has been under construction since 2006, is at the center of a complex which will eventually include the Hunta Haji Islamic University, the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Chechnya, a medressah, an Islamic library, and dormitories for students attending these institutions.
Today, officials are officially opening the mosque, although they have been careful to say that there will not be a ribbon cutting as that is inconsistent with the principles of Islam, and over the weekend, Grozny will host an international conference on “Islam as a Religion of Peace and Progress.”
To ensure security for all these functions, Chechen Mufti Sultan Mirzayev said, many of the streets in central Grozny are closed off to traffic, and more than 2000 officers of the Chechen law enforcement agencies and military command are patrolling those streets and the area around them (www.islamnews.ru/news-15067.html).