Crimean Muslims begin protest over obstruction in building a Mosque in Simpferopol
On 23 January Muslims in the Crimea began an indefinite protest action alleging discrimination on religious and ethnic grounds. They held a picket and prayer service in the place where the Simferopol City Council had previously given permission to build the Soborna Mosque. At one of the last sessions, the Councils deputies reversed this decision which has prompted the Muslims of Crimea to call on Kyiv to dissolve the Council and hold new elections for Mayor of Simferopol.
The process of gathering all necessary documentation for the building permits had taken two years and cost over 70 thousand UAH.
The protesters have set up a tent and are calling their action an information picket. They say that they will continue their protest until the Council removes its ban on the construction of the Mosque.
One of the leaders of the Mejilis Refat Chubarov, who is also a National Deputy, took part in the picket and prayer service yesterday. He initiated an open appeal addressed to President Yushchenko. The appeal claims that the Crimean authorities may avoid resolving the long-standing problems with land and instead resort to provocative measures as a way of escaping liability for numerous fraudulent dealings over land.
A supermarket instead?
The Mayor of Simferopol Gennady Babenko has long avoided discussing this subject with the press. The Councils press service claims that the Council had a number of reasons, but supposedly most important was a “large number of appeals from individuals”.
“You cant build any old constructions at the mouth of a water reservoir which is a protected zone”, representative of the press service Tetyana Shkuro stated. At the same time a source within the S=City Council said that the local authorities want to allocate the land involved to build a supermarket.
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