MOSCOW - Feeling the pinch of growing hostility in their society, Russian Muftis Council has accused media of tarnishing the image of Russian Muslims, spreading misconceptions about Islam, hijab and mosques.
It is precisely for this reason that in this country, like they are in the West, people are scared by the construction of new mosques, deputy chairman of the Russian Muftis Council Rushan Abbyasov was quoted by Interfax news agency on Wednesday, October 2.
The local authorities also sometimes demonstrate a lack of understanding.
As a result of this media policy, people are also afraid of the hijab, the prohibition of which in schools has even developed into a political issue, he added.
Abbyasov comments followed a meeting attended by a leading analyst of the US commission, Catherine Cosman, and first secretary of the political section of the US Embassy in Russia, Patrick Horne.
Announcing the meeting, a press service of the council did not, however, specify where or when the meeting took place.
The Russian Federation is home to some 23 million Muslims in the north of the Caucasus and southern republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Islam is Russia's second-largest religion representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million predominantly Orthodox population.
The Russian Muslim leader expressed concern over the fact that the mass media often associated extremists with Islam.
There are numerous cases when certain destructive forces in the guise of so-called 'experts on Islam' (who in reality have neither an education or knowledge of Islam) on the staff of the Russian Orthodox Church resist a positive dialogue on the pretext of Christian Orthodoxy and try to hurt Muslims in different parts of this country, set them against society and the state and arouse a negative attitudes towards this worldwide religion among non-Muslims, the press service quoted Abbyasov as saying.
Unfortunately, regional and local authorities sometimes follow their lead without realizing the danger of the situation, he added.
The Muslim concerns about discriminatory' media were consolidated after a Russian court ruled that translation of the Qur'an into Russian made by philosopher Elmir Kuliyev as extremist.
A similar ban in June 2012 included the ban of 65 Islamic books which were deemed extremist literature by the court.
This and the way it is done is an indication of the complete absence of respect not only toward the Muslims of Russia but toward any religion, including the teaching of monotheism, Abbyasov said.