Moscow: Muslims pray on sidewalks for want of mosques

Moscow: Muslims pray on sidewalks for want of mosques

Via AFP:
It is a typical Friday scene -- worshippers kneeling in the rain outside Moscow's biggest mosque, forced to use their shoes to anchor their prayer rugs to keep them from blowing away in the autumn winds.

The scramble for a place inside is a weekly headache for Muslims in the Russian capital, a city with one of the biggest percentage of Muslims in Europe but with only four mosques.

And their plea for more space to worship is stirring tension with Russia's resurgent nationalists.

"When I can get here early, I can find a place inside. Otherwise I need to stay outside," said Abdyl Ashim Ibraimov, 30, a regular at the Sobornaya mosque, Moscow's largest.

Thousands of faithful descend upon the site each Friday for the Islamic day of prayer, but the green building topped with gold crescents -- wedged between blocks of apartments and an immense stadium in central Moscow -- can only hold up to 800 people.