BASHKORTOSTAN – Appealing to the Muslim minority, Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised Muslims as ‘vital’ component in the country’s diverse and rich society during his visit to Muslim majority Bashkortostan..
“Our fathers and grandfathers never discriminated against each other on the basis of ethnicity or faith,” Putin told Muslim clerics meeting in Ufa on Tuesday, October 22, The Voice Of Russia reported.
“They valued mutual respect, supported each other in joy and sorrow, and have left us a legacy of great, invincible friendship that we will allow no one to destroy or blacken.”
Putin was speaking during his meeting with Muslim muftis at an event on Tuesday marking the 225th anniversary of Russia’s Central Muslim Spiritual Administration, the governing body of the country’s large Muslim community.
Citing the significant role of Muslim statesmen, artists, scientists, soldiers and businessmen in the Russian history, Putin stressed that Islam was a ‘shiny’ code of Russian culture.
He has also praised the Muslim community’s role to boost Russia’s interfaith relations.
Bracing to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the Winter Olympics in February and the soccer World Cup finals in 2018, Russia has been disturbed by the recent attacks, which drew concerns over safe and successful games.
Bashkortostan, a Muslim autonomous republic, extends on both sides of the Ural Mountains, on the place where Europe meets Asia.
Bashkortostan is Russia’s forth nation in terms of population, with strong national identity and very tragic history of fighting for freedom.
Bashkirs are half-nomadic Turkic Sunni Muslim people living in today’s Russia Federation with strong urge towards independence.
At the meeting, Putin urged the Russian Muslim organization to cooperate with the government to counter the ‘politicization of Islam’.
“A politicization of religion – not always positive – is going on among various tracks in Russia, including Islam,” he said.
“The government and the Russian Muslim community are facing new problems and tasks in this setting, which can only be resolved jointly.”
Putin comments were delivered two days after a suicide bombing on a bus by a Muslim female in Volgograd.
Six people were killed and score were injured in the attack which happened about 1000 Km away from Ufa.
Last week, hundreds were arrested during police crackdown on an anti-immigrant riots in Moscow.
Accusing foreign ‘foes’ attempts to weaken the Asian country, Putin argued that Russia rivals are using the radical trend of Islam to maintain conflict.
“Some political forces are making use of Islam – to be more exact, its radical trends, which, by the way are untypical of the Russian Muslim community – in order to weaken the state, to create conflicts, governed from outside, to split ethnic groups within the Muslim community and to incite separatism in the regions,
Despite a variety of schools and trends in Islam, Russia’s Muslims “have always been united in their service to the public and the state,” The Russian President said.
Seeking a wider sovereignty on the Russian religious education, Putin suggested restoring Russia’s Islamic theologian schools to guarantee ‘moderate’ Islamic education.
“If the present-day challenges are to be tackled effectively, the high authority of Russia’s Muslim clergy and of the Islamic theologian school should be maintained,” Putin said.
“Among the most important tasks is that of recreating the national Islamic theologian school that would guarantee the sovereignty of the Russian religious space.”
The Russian president also referred to the repeated attempts to fuel the ongoing tension among the western powers and the Muslim world, underlying that Russia had never helped in creating that tension.
“Today tension between Western powers and the Muslim world is growing. Some politicians try to take advantage of it adding fuel to the fire. We’re not interested in it,” he said.
He also referred to the growing Russian presence in the Middle East, and the Muslim world, adding that Russia had been seeking solidarity in the Islamic countries.
“We should act more actively unmasking harmful for mankind projects which aim at manipulating countries and peoples, information and public opinion,” Putin stressed.
Islam is Russia’s second-largest religion representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million predominantly Orthodox population.
The Russian Federation is home to some 23 million Muslims in the north of the Caucasus and southern republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Last June, Moscow police have detained more than 300 worshippers after rounding them up during prayer at a Muslim prayer room in the Russian capital.