Mohammad N. & Mohsen Kia
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - ABNA has conducted an interview with Hojatoleslam "Famil Jafarof", the head of the Shiite community in Moscow and a member of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s) World Assembly.
ABNA: How is the Shiites situation in Moscow?
Jafarof: Nowadays more than one million Shia live in Moscow. There are also five mosques in this city which are share between Sunnis and Shiites. Shiites also have several forums in Moscow, which carry out some dispersed activities.
ABNA: Do they have complete freedom in Moscow?
Jafarof: Yes, we are totally free, so we can easily do our missionary work, and even Russian National Security has benefited from that, because our activity is a kind of fighting with Wahhabism. Shiites, therefore, can do their activity freely, and government has a good thought about us.
ABNA: How about of legal perspective? Do Shiites have any special advantage from this point?
Jafarof: No, they don't have any special advantage from the legal perspective, and from this point there are problems for Shias in Russia. At the time of the Russian Empire, all Muslims in Russia were Sunni. It was the seventeenth century that Russian tsar made special religious offices for Sunnis. Later, in the war between Iran and Russia, Shiites were added to the population of this country, and then in the late nineteenth century, a special office for Shia was established in the Caucasus, where they were able to carry out their religious affairs. But now, this office is located in Azerbaijan, and since the Russian and Azerbaijani isolated, we can say now, there isn't any special organization to carry out Shia's religious affairs in Russia. So, Shiites have faced with many legal problems. For example they don't have permission to build a mosque,because here in Russia, the religious institutions are the trustee of the mosques, they are all Sunnis Muslim; and as I mentioned we, Shia don’t have religious institutions to build a Shia mosque. However, due to the optimistic view of Russian government towards the Shia, we are hopefully pursuing this issue, and Insha'Allah we solve this problem.
ABNA: Wahhabism widespread activity in Moscow is what comes from the news; do you want to talk about it?
Jafarof: As you know, In Soviet times the religious prohibitions were existed in Russia and the mosques were closed. Therefore, after the Soviet collapse and disappearance of the Ban, Russia was a good place for Wahhabism. They came to Russia, and supported by America and Britain. So they are now active in deferent places and specially Caucasus. And it is important to know that Russian government itself has suffered from that, and the promotion of Wahhabism is to the detriment of Russia's national security. Although the Shiites, Sunnis and aware people stand against them, they are doing their missionary work with the help of west. For example, in the western Caucasus Wahhabis look to clerics - who are cooperating with the government - as the enemy, so we see a lot that they assassinate Imams.
ABNA: What is the Russian people idea about Iran?
Jafarof: Actually despite all Zionist propaganda they love Iran, especially Russian patriotism who are against Zionist, and strongly support the Imam Khamenei and Iranian authorities in anti-Zionist activities.
ABNA: How is the relationship between Medvedev, Russia's current president, and Shiites?
Jafarof: As I said before, the Russian government has a good thought about Shiites, because all the injuries suffered in the Caucasus country were from Wahhabis, and Wahhabis are known as an extremist group.
ABNA: As we know, this is the second time that you have participated in this assembly, so if it possible tell us what do you expect from the Ahlul Bait World Assembly?
Jafarof: First, I want the connection between Assembly and its members to be in a way, that we can talk with the Assembly immediately and directly. Also we have some economically problems because Shiites in Russia still have not reached self-sufficiency in this field.