A group of lay Orthodox activists gathered 2,000 signatures on a petition against a decision by the city authorities to give land to the Muslim community to erect a mosque and an Islamic centre, reports Vera, a Orthodox newspaper for northern Russia.
The petition read in part: “We, the residents of Syktyvkar was spared when the city government last fall approved giving land to the Muslim community for the construction of a Muslim mosque in the capital of the Komi Republic. Syktyvkar is considered the most peaceful city in northwest Russia, and its residents are tolerant to representatives of other nationalities and faiths.” …and….”the construction of a mosque which workers from Turkey will build is a mistake and evidence of lack of farsightedness on the part of locals powers that be. Such actions can lead to a deterioration of inter-ethnic and inter-confessional relations.”
According to Window on Eurasia, the first Muslims appeared in the Komi Republic in Stalin’s times when many of them were first sent to labour-camps and after that remained in the area.
In the city of Usinsk in Komi, the Muslim community opened a mosque before the Orthodox were able to open a church after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In Syktyvkar, 1,200 of the 231,000 residents are registered Muslims.
The Muslims in Syktyvkar has been seeking land for a mosque since 2001. With the recent city’s approval, the construction work is planned to start in the second half of this year.