MOSCOW - The mayor of Moscow has warned that no permissions would be granted to building new mosques in the metropolitan city, attacking economic immigrants for irritating Muscovites with their different languages and manners.
It has turned out that the praying Muslims are not at all Russian citizens and they are not Moscow residents. They are labor migrants, Sergey Sobyanin said in an interview with Moscow's Echo radio cited by Russia Today on Friday, March 1.
There are only 10 percent of Moscow residents among them and building mosques for everyone who wants it - I think this will be over the top, he added.
He recommended Muslims to use stadiums or open-air places for meetings.
The top city official attacked the 'excessive' number of economic migrants as a harmful thing'.
Muscovites now get irritated by people who speak a different language, have different manners, with aggressive behavior, Sobyanin said.
This is not purely ethnic, but this is connected with some ethnic traits.
The controversial comments were denounced by Russian Muslims.
Co-chair of the Russian Mufti Council Nafigullah Ashirov said that Muslims will file a request to Russian President Vladimir Putin to build mosques.
Opposition to the building of mosques is not new in Moscow.
Last December, government plans to build six new mosques in the Russian capital sparked a controversy in the country with opponents calling for a public referendum on the building of mosques in Moscow.
In 2012, hundreds of residents of Moscow's neighborhood of Mitino staged a protest against the building of an Islamic cultural center in their far-flung district.
Three years ago, similar news in the Tekstilshchiki area in the city's eastern part saw residents up in arms against building a mosque on a park.
There are some 23 million Muslims in the Russian Federation concentrated in the north of the Caucasus, representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million population.
Islam is the country's second-largest religion, behind the Russian Orthodoxy.
According to Russia Today, experts say that, by 2050, Muslims will make up about half of Russia's population, making it one of the world's largest countries.