Moscow Muslims oppose alterations to historic mosque

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Muslim groups in the Russian capital strongly oppose planned changes to one of Moscow's oldest mosques in spite of a favourable ruling by their leaders, Ria Novosti news agency reported Monday.

Following a decision by a council of muftis, or Islamic scholars the 1904 structure is being enlarged to accommodate thousands of faithful and add a hotel and shops.

But on Monday Russian Muslim organisations said in a joint statement they disagree with the council decision and would take the case to higher state authorities to have it overturned.

"There is no reason to destroy this mosque" and build a new one, warned Perm region mufti Mukhamedgali Khuzin, one of the authors of the statement, according to the agency.

Opponents argue that the old mosque is "an example of early 20th-century Tatar religious architecture" which is threatened by a "radical modernisation".

But the mufti council said the old building no longer meets modern-day standards and must be enlarged to accommodate an increasing number of faithful.

In late August, at the celebration of the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, the mosque was overcrowded.

© 2011 AFP

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