Impassioned appeal from Ukrainian Muslim leader in face of Russia’s war to destroy Ukraine
Sheikh Said Ismagilov, Mufti of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine ‘UMMA’, has called on Muslims in all countries to support Ukraine in its struggle against Russia’s invasion, and has also made an extremely hard-hitting address to Muslims in Russia. Essentially all Ukraine’s religious leaders have come out with clear statements in defence of Ukraine and in condemnation of Russia’s aggression, even Metropolitan Onufriy, head of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine linked to the Moscow Patriarchate.
The address to Muslims in all countries was given in Ukrainian, and
Said Ismagilov’s address to Muslims of the Russian Federation
“I don’t know if you are aware, but at present an absolutely total war is being waged against our people, against the Ukrainian people and our state Your media are lying to you. Your forces, your Russian forces have come here simply to kill us. They are shelling homes and civilians, and I call on you, Muslims of Russia, to not take part in any way in this war, to not support the Putin regime.”
He goes on to ask what Russian Muslims are waiting for. While all Russia’s forces are deployed in Ukraine, while Ukraine’s heroic army is fighting them off, they should begin their own liberation movement in the Russian Federation. He points out that they are being deprived of their native languages, of their rights and freedoms; of their identity as Muslims and as individual peoples.
“Russia is a prison of nations. Begin your liberation while all of the dogs are fighting us here. We will fight them off. We will win. You have the chance of self-determination; of freedom; [the chance] to reinstate your national, cultural and religious identity.”
Said Ismagilov was among many Ukrainian representatives of religious and national minorities who
Since Moscow has resorted to a particularly foul lie, claiming that its savage war against Ukraine is aimed at “the demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, the clear message given by Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Yaakov Dov Bleich, was particularly welcome. On 25 February,
Ukraine is a country of many faiths, and it is likely that the list of spiritual leaders who have spoken out against the war and in support of Ukraine is very much longer. As with Said Ismagilov and Rabbi Bleich, there was nothing unexpected about the unequivocal support for Ukraine and its defenders taken by
It is the position of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church linked to the Moscow Patriarchate that had not, necessarily, been guaranteed. The current Moscow Patriarch, Kirill, has long been known for sharing the same strident ‘Russian world ‘ views as Vladimir Putin. Back in November 2009, Kirill
Kirill has made no more than
All of this ‘call to peace’ was widely interpreted as in support of Putin’s war against Ukraine, and led to considerable protest from Orthodox priests, many of whom have publicly refused to commemorate Kirill in their sermons. Others
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine began back in 2014, however it was noticeable then and later that the only faith in either occupied Crimea or Donbas that did not come under fire was the Orthodox Church linked to the Moscow Patriarchate. Although officially the latter did not take any position on the conflict in Donbas, it was certainly noticeable in the Verkhovna Rada back on 8 May 2014 that the only people who did not stand to commemorate 21 Ukrainian soldiers who had been killed in the war were Onufriy and two other representatives of the Church linked to the Moscow Patriarchate. The latter was also the only faith that did not take part in the Prayer Marathon for Peace in Donetsk.
A 2015 study entitled ‘
As early as 24 February, before it became clear that Russia was bombing civilian targets and causing untold destruction and suffering, Onufriy came out with
It seems unlikely, given the brutality of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and the position taken by Kirill as head of the Moscow Patriarchate, that this will be enough to still the outrage and alienation very many believers are now experiencing.