Mufti: This is our Homeland. Tell your ‘soldiers of fate’ to stay away!
Said Ismagilov, Mufti of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Ukraine has addressed a message to Muslims throughout the world on his facebook page asking them to tell their ‘soldiers of fate’ that there is no place for them in Ukraine. “And then you won’t have to reproach us for discovering representatives of your peoples among the militants.” His moving address is slightly abridged below.
“Everything here was fine. You can’t imagine how good things were. We didn’t realize either, by the way. For us it was something that went without saying. We had never had either wars or terrorism. Here Muslims, Christians, Jews had never fought with each other. There weren’t any Muslim pogroms like in Moscow, or killings of sheiks, muftis and imams. There was no ethnic cleansing, no refugees, no purges. We built mosques or opened places of worship in virtually every populated area, and they were not once pulled down. Not once! We don’t have lists of prohibited Muslim literature. We simply don’t, not one book. Nobody prohibited the Koran or its translations. We printed our Muslim newspapers without censorship and published what we thought in them. We took part in direct broadcasts on the country’s television channels where you can speak the truth live. Can you even imagine something like this in your countries?
Our Crimean Tatar Muslims always held their remembrance gathering in memory of relatives who died during the Deportation on May 18 on the main square in Simferopol. It was only this year [after Russia’s annexation – translator] that they were prohibited from doing this. They’ve even banned Mustafa Jemiliev, the most venerated elder of the people from entering the Crimea. We have Crimean Tatar, Tatar, Arab schools. Here Muslims are a part of the country, a part of the general history of our land. We are at home here. This is our homeland. We freely practised Islam, worshipped in mosques, fasted for Ramadan, went on the hajj to Sacred Mecca. And nobody prohibited this. More, among us are ethnic Ukrainians who have converted to Islam and nobody persecuted us for openly preaching Islam. Name me even one other such country. Would you like it to be like this in your country? Everything is fine here. You must not come here to fight against us. Fear almighty Allah! Remember the words of the Prophet Muhammed [peace and mercy to him from Allah!) “If two Muslims clash with swords, both the killer and the person killed will go to Hell!” I know that there are Muslims in the Ukrainian army who are defending our country from external aggression and internal madness.
Do not come here to fight us, remember the words of the Prophet. They are simply defending their Homeland, their families and homes. You remember: “The life, honour and property of a Muslim are inviolable.” That is the law of Islam. Not everything here was wonderful, but we lived in freedom. And we treasure that freedom. In Ukraine we’ll all obsessed with freedom. We don’t need bread, give us freedom. Without freedom we don’t have appetite or sleep. We do not exchange our country for money and a stable dictatorship. There are things which are not for sale.”
(The Mufti was referring to information that two former Arab students were among those fighters killed in Donbas. He later referred to the publicity his address received, saying that he did not understand why he was cited as the source of the information since representatives of the Arab diaspora in Donetsk were aware of the deaths, as were the Ukrainian SBU [security service], journalists and simply people visiting the mosque. He points out that other versions have been voiced, and apologizes if his words were not correct in any way.
Whether or not the two men died fighting for the Kremlin-backed militants, there are currently large numbers of Russian Federation nationals, including some who would call themselves Muslims fighting in eastern Ukraine. It is widely believed that in many, if not the majority of cases they are being paid large amounts for fighting. The presence of Chechen fighters gained world publicity on the eve of the attempt to seize the airport in Donetsk on May 26. That attempted seizure was chillingly reminiscent of similar moves in the Crimea following the undeclared Russian invasion, but this time led to a determined counter-offensive from the Ukrainian military and significant casualties among the Kremlin-backed fighters. More have been killed since. Mounting casualties, and the fact that western countries, while still dragging their feet on sanctions, have publicly noted the presence of Russian nationals, could lead to mercenaries from other countries being recruited on a larger scale.)