A group of top Muslim clerics have demanded that Orthodox Christian symbols be removed from the Russian coat of arms and have complained about the Russian authorities and power-wielding structures allegedly refusing to abide by the principle of secularity, the Interfax news agency reported.
“This is not only a question of the Russian coat of arms. We can say that icons are all but put up on the walls of state offices,” Nafigulla Ashirov, chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Asian Russia, told journalists.
He accused units of the Defense and Interior Ministries and the Federal Security Service of appropriating various saints “who are allegedly the patrons of warriors”. “The power-wielding structures, the authorities and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchy are erecting large crosses at border posts and the approaches to towns. Orthodox chapels are being built in the command bodies of the armed forces,” he lamented.
In his turn, Damir Mukhetdinov, deputy head of the Spiritual Board of the Nizhny Novgorod region’s Muslims, shared the Muslims’ concerns. Their feelings are insulted by the Orthodox presence in the Russian coat of arms.
“We, the Muslims of Nizhny Novgorod region, were wholeheartedly in favour of introducing the unity of the peoples holiday. We could not have imagined, however, that the sound of Orthodox bells and the icon of the Virgin of Kazan would become the symbols of this holiday in Russia,” he said about the day of people’s unity. The mufti is convinced that “all this violates the secular nature of the state and doesn’t contribute to the unity of Russia’s peoples”.
Ali Visam Bardvil, head of the Spiritual Board of Karelia’s Muslims, too, believes that the presence of Christian symbols in the coat of arms is impermissible. He said that Russia “is neither a Muslim nor a Christian country”.
“The cross is not a Muslim symbol. We respect the religious feeling of Christians but do not recognize the crucifixion of Christ,” the Muslim figure clarified. “Therefore,” he went on, “in my opinion Orthodox symbols should be removed from the coat of arms to make it acceptable to all religions.” Bardvil emphasized that Muslims would support all politicians calling for a change to the current symbols in the Russian coat of arms.