Uproar Brews Over Moscow Mosque

'Clean Moscow' group wants Muslim-free city
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2010 2:52 PM CDT
Muslims pray to celebrate the holiday of Kurban-Bairam outside Moscow's main mosque in this 2001 file photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – New York isn’t the only city with a mosque controversy on its hands. Moscow’s 1.5 million Muslims say they desperately need a new mosque, but they’ve encountered local opposition from a group calling for a Muslim- and foreigner-free “clean Moscow,” Der Spiegel reports. These activists are planting trees at the mosque’s would-be site, in an attempt to prevent its construction. The local media is calling the site “the Russian Ground Zero.”

The row isn’t entirely Islamophobic. A group of ex-Neo-Nazis has drummed up opposition to the mosque by arguing that it wants to protect Moscow’s green area. “We want a park here, and not a mosque or a church or anything else,” says one mother planting trees on the lot. Another agrees, adding, “We are not against the mosque, we are for the park.” But a Moscow group that monitors extremists says the park campaign is merely “an original idea to camouflage xenophobia.”

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