Moscow’s Cathedral Mosque has reopened after reconstruction 2015-09-23 12:25:00 Moscow Vladimir Putin, President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the opening of Moscow’s Cathedral Mosque following reconstruction. The mosque has reopened after extensive reconstruction designed to increase its capacity substantially. The new building can hold up to 10,000 worshippers at a time. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Erdogan, Mr Abbas, members of the clergy, foreign guests, friends, Let me congratulate you from all my heart on the opening of Moscow’s rebuilt Cathedral Mosque. This is a big event for all Muslims in Russia. One of Moscow’s oldest mosques stood on this historical site and has undergone reconstruction that now makes it the biggest in Europe. It was given a magnificent modern new look worthy of the capital of our united, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country. This new mosque is worthy of Russia, in which, I want to stress, Islam, under our country’s law, is one of Russia’s traditional religions, with millions of our citizens counting themselves among its followers. I want to thank everyone who took part in the work on this magnificent building and all of the Muslims in Russia and abroad who donated to this effort. We are grateful to the governments of Turkey and Kazakhstan for their contributions to the mosque’s reconstruction. I am sure that the mosque will become a major spiritual centre for Muslims in Moscow and throughout Russia, providing education and spreading humanistic ideas and the true and authentic values of Islam. It will spread knowledge and spirituality and will help to unite the efforts of Muslims and people of other faiths too in common worthy causes. The Koran tells us to try to outdo each other in doing good. Right from its creation, Russia has always been a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country. This mutual enrichment of different cultures, traditions and religions has always been our country’s distinguishing feature and strength. Moscow’s Muslim community, for example, emerged back in mediaeval times, and this is reflected in the Tatar roots of many of the capital’s street names. The traditions of enlightened Islam developed over many centuries in Russia. The fact that different peoples and religions live peacefully together in Russia is in large part thanks to the Muslim community, which has made a worthy contribution to preserving harmony in our society and has always strived to build relations within and between religions based on tolerance for each other’s faiths. Today, traditional Islam is an integral part of Russia’s spiritual life. Islam’s humanist values, like the values of our other traditional religions, teach people compassion, justice and care for our loved ones. We place great value on these things. The number of mosques and Islamic cultural centres has increased greatly in Russia over the last 20 years. Amazingly beautiful mosques have been built in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chechnya and other Russian regions. In 2003, our country became a permanent observer in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Thousands of pilgrims from Russia make the hajj, and the number of madrasas and schools attached to mosques has also increased greatly. It is important to educate Muslim youth in traditional Islamic values and prevent attempts to impose on us world outlooks that are alien to us and have nothing to do with genuine Islam. Let me say that the authorities will continue to assist in reviving Russia’s system of Islamic theological schools and religious education. As you know, I supported the Tatarstan authorities and the principal Muslim spiritual bodies on the issue of establishing the Bulgar Islamic Academy, thus reviving this ancient Russian Muslim centre of religion and learning. Of course, we must continue expanding the network of Muslim cultural and educational centres. Their aim is to bring Muslims together, impart to them the spiritual, cultural and moral code inherent to traditional Islam in Russia, help to resolve common problems, and take part in youth education. I note the big role that Muslims and above all their spiritual leaders play in strengthening interethnic and interfaith harmony. Their rejection and condemnation of all forms of fundamentalism and radicalism have made a major contribution to the fight against nationalism and religious extremism. Work in this area is all the more important today, when we see attempts to cynically exploit religious feelings for political aims. We see what is happening in the Middle East (this has been mentioned here today too), where terrorists from the so-called Islamic State are compromising a great world religion, compromising Islam, sowing hatred, killing people, including clergy, and barbarically destroying monuments of world culture. Their ideology is built on lies and blatant distortions of Islam. They are trying to recruit followers here in Russia too. Russia’s Muslim leaders are bravely and fearlessly using their own influence to resist this extremist propaganda. I want to express my tremendous respect for these people who carry out their work heroically and have suffered losses. I have no doubt that they will continue to educate the faithful in the spirit of humanism, compassion and justice. Friends, this new mosque is opening as the Muslim community is about to celebrate the big holiday of Eid al-Adha. Let me congratulate all of Russia’s Muslims on this joyful holiday and wish you all goodness, happiness and prosperity. I congratulate you on the mosque’s opening.