Imam Ildar Ayautdinov of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque says that there is such a critical lack of mosques in Moscow, that Muslims might have to start using empty churches instead:
"Moscow is the only place in the world where over one million Muslims are served in only four mosques. We lack premises for praying. Muslims are allowed to conduct their religious ceremonies in Orthodox churches, but we would rather avoid this extreme measure," he said in an interview to the Moscow issue of Metro daily.
He referred to the concerns voiced by the opponents of constructing a mosque in the Tekstilschiki District of Moscow that such mosque would threaten dog owners and said that "nothing threatens dogs, this is just ridiculous."
Shamil Alyautdinov, imam of the Memorial Mosque, agrees:
"There are very many churches in Moscow, at every step, and they're empty. There aren't traffic jams forming around them. Masses of people are only there on the biggest holidays, and even then it's not that noticeable," Shamil Alyautdinov, imam of the Memorial Mosque on Poklonnaya Gora, said in comments on Vesti FM radio, Interfax reported.
Moscow's "four small mosques," however, are surrounded by weekly traffic jams as worshippers come to pray, he said, adding that Moscow had a million native Muslims.
The Moscow Patriarchate does not support the appeal against the mosque, but says that Moscow needs more churches:
The Moscow Patriarchate on Monday stopped short of supporting an appeal by Muscovites seeking to stop construction of a mosque in their district, but the church criticized local authorities for not allowing an Orthodox Christian church on the same site.
Residents of the Tekstilshchiki district in southeastern Moscow staged a protest Sept. 11 against a mosque that should be built on Volzhsky Bulvar and collected more than 1,000 signatures for their petition protesting the construction.
The protesters, who say the mosque would take up the district's sole park and hinder parking, have asked the Russian Orthodox Church to support their campaign.
The church does not protest the construction of an Islamic temple, despite the fact that Moscow has fewer Orthodox Christian churches per capita than any other Russian region, priest Vsevolod Chaplin said Monday, Interfax reported.
Islamologist Roman Silantyev says that Moscow only has 400,000 Muslims, not 2 million, and that there are six big mosques, not four. Besides the big mosques, there are dozens of small mosques:
Muslim life is organized this way in most countries where there are dozens small district mosques for one big Friday mosque, the Islamologist said. According to his information, all thirty Muslim organizations registered in Moscow and major part of not registered own or rent premises for prayer and "thus hundred mosques minimum are in fact work in the capital, which is normal by any measure."
Silantyev also believes that "Russia's Mufti Council speculations about the shortage of mosques in Moscow are farcical as this organization in spite of all opportunities for 15 years have not built any mosque in the capital and didn't let others, for example Supreme Mufti Talgat Tajuddin and Muslims of the Northern Caucasus, do it."