Afghanistan War veterans in the Crimea come out in support of the Soborna Mosque
On 1 March representatives of the Crimean branch of the Ukrainian Union of Afghanistan War Veterans added their support to the protest actions over the Soborna [Assembly] Mosque in Simferopol. As reported already, the Muslims of the Crimea, backed by the Prosecutor and the Crimean Economic Court, are demanding that the land on Yaltynska St be allocated, as originally planned for their Soborna Mosque.
“In Afghanistan we were not divided according to ethnic or religious differences and we regard the demands of the Muslims for a Soborna Mosque to be built in Simferopol to be legitimate. Issues of justice in religious relations must be fully observed. If the rights of other religious communities in the Crimea are violated, we will also demand that their rights are protected”, the Deputy Head of the Unions Crimean branch, Rustem Ametov stated.
Mr Ametov adds that the Crimean brotherhood of veterans which has more than five thousand members, including over a thousand Muslims, experiences no ethnic or religious discord.
“We went through the war and know from our own experience the importance of friendship and brotherhood in arms. Unfortunately the deputies of the Simferopol City Council take decisions based only on political considerations and expediency, and dont think about people”.
A tent city has been erected at the site where the Mosque is intended. More than fifty Afghanistan War veterans from different regions of the Crimea have already arrived there.
This dispute is on-going and to avoid being overly repetitive, the following are the brief facts from the most recent decision taken. On 28 February the Council decided to declare the land site at 22 Yaltynska St and the surrounding territory a “park forest area” used for recreation purposes by Simferopol residents. This land had earlier been applied for and allocated for the building of a Soborna or Assembly Mosque by the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims. After all permit documentation had been gathered and submitted, this being a lengthy and expensive process, the Council suddenly decided to allocate an entirely different site.
The Prosecutor lodged a protest against this decision, saying that by unilaterally changing the location, the Council had acted in breach of the law. The Council today cancelled its decision to allocate the land on Luhova St which had not been asked for. However it recommended that the Spiritual Directorate make a new application – for the land on Luhova St.
The Council claimed that it had taken the decision at the request of residents and a collective appeal from a number of institutions. They have also argued recently (although the plans for this site date back four years) that one should not build a Mosque at the mouth of a reservoir.
The Council also stated that it planned to appeal against the ruling of the Crimean Economic Court ordering the Simferopol City Council to conclude a lease agreement within ten days for the land site.
Various suggestions have been made as to why the Council changed its mind over the location of the Mosque. It has been suggested that they have plans to sell the land for a supermarket.
Whether or not the Council has such an aim, its behaviour is hardly aimed at enhancing inter-ethnic and inter-faith relations in the Crimea.
It is therefore very cheering to see other communities in the Crimea demonstrating support and solidarity.
Information about the Afghanistan War veterans support from