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Moscow’s mosque controversy

Incredibly, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the city of Moscow, which is about one-fifth Muslim, has only four mosques. The planned construction of a fifth, with approval of the city government, has angered some citizens:  More than 1,000 people from the district have signed a petition against the mosque’s construction, arguing that it would ...

DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images

Incredibly, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the city of Moscow, which is about one-fifth Muslim, has only four mosques. The planned construction of a fifth, with approval of the city government, has angered some citizens

More than 1,000 people from the district have signed a petition against the mosque’s construction, arguing that it would affect parking and inconvenience local dog owners, who could be restricted from walking their pets near the mosque.

Opponents also complain that the mosque is located in the district’s only "green zone," an area that is supposed to be reserved for parks.

Aleksandr Kuzmichyov, a 55-year-old computer programmer, says he and all his friends and neighbors are opposed to the mosque. "First of all it’s a green area, it’s a residential area and dogs go for a walk there," he says. "They’ll be nowhere to walk them, they’ll be in the courtyard."

Others express more xenophobic sentiments, saying they fear an influx of Chechens and other people from the Caucasus.

I would imagine there are probably plenty of unofficial mosques where the city’s 2 million Muslims are praying. That’s only a bit smaller than the total Muslim population of the United States, which has around 1,200 mosques.

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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