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Russian Muslims Set Up Body To Spread Islam

Russian Muslims Set Up Body To Spread Islam



By Damir Ahmad, IOL Correspondent

MOSCOW, June 20 ( - Russia’s major Islamic associations have laid the groundwork for a pan-Muslim body that will help spread Islam nationwide and clear any stereotypes about Muslims.

"The National Association of Russian Muslims is the fruit of earnest efforts by the Islamic Call Center in Omsk, Siberia, the Russian Muslims Federation in Ioshkar-Ola, eastern Russia, Banu Zulkarnein Center in Moscow and the Islamic Cultural Center in Almata [the capital of Kazakhstan] to help spread Islam," the nascent body’s media spokesman, Grigory Amir Mavrov, told Sunday, June 20.

The four Islamic bodies have convened last week in Omsk and elected Anatoliy Abu Talib Stepchenko to head the association and Taras Abdelkarim Cherneenko as his deputy, the association said in a press release, a copy of which was obtained by IOL.


Spreading Islam

Mavrov said the association will embark on a massive campaign to spread Islam and protect Russia’s Islamic heritage.

"We’d like to reach out to Russians and explain to them the essence of Islam and help the new Russian converts by providing useful answers to their questions and educating them about Islam," he told IOL.

A library photo shows an Islamic center under construction in Siberia

He asserted that the number of Russian converts is on the rise, noting that 13 Russians embraced Islam in the past three days only at Banu Zulkarnein Center.

Sources in the Council of Muftis of Russia told IOL that at least 503 Russians accepted Islam in 2003 compared to 487 people in 2002 and 430 in 2001.

Of the total number, women made 60 percent and men 40 percent, according to the council.

Mavrov said the association will also launch an all-encompassing media campaign to get the Russians acquainted with Islam.

The new body will also set up its own media network for a better communication with the different Islamic bodies nationwide.

In April, Muslims set up the first ever rights  group that will defend their economic, political and religious rights and clear stereotypes tarnishing their image.

Russia has a Muslim population of 23 million, representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million population, according to a 2003 census.

Two million Muslims are residing in the capital Moscow.

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