Ministry of Culture on Raid Near a Mosque: “We Understand the Muslims’ Resentment and Assure Them of Our Support”

03.02.2020

6

Mr.Denys Koliada, Counselor to the Minister of Culture, took part in the breefing held by RAMU “Umma” on the raid on possible illegal migrants, held by the National Police and the State Migration Service on Friday, 31 January, when Muslims were on their way to the mosque to perform their Friday prayer. Mr.Koliada read out loud the official address from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports on that occasion (English translation below):

“Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations” says as follows

“The State defends the rights and legal interests of religious organisations; [...] takes into consideration and respects traditions and internal regulations of religious organisations if they do not contravene the law”.

In view of this, we’d like to express our official position on recent events.

On Friday, between 12;00 and 14:00, officers of the State Migration Service of Ukraine conducted an ID checkup of people near the building of the Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine “Umma” Mosque.

According to Mufti said Ismagilov, the officers checked IDs of almost everyone heading to the prayer in terms of that “operation”, and detained about 25 people after the prayer was over.

Noteworthy, Friday is a very special prayer day for Muslims. We can’t but admit that nobody would like to face humiliation, even less during the sacred act such as prayer.

So the timing and location chosen for such “operation” leave us asking questions, both moral and legal. We understand the Muslim Community’s resentment and assure them of our support coming, first of all, from the spirit of Solidarity.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports would like to remind our colleagues from the Migration Service that the very governing body responsible for dealing with the religious communities is our Department on Religions and Ethnicities.

We call for the Migration Service to cooperate. We are always willing to extend a helping hand in communication with religious organisations on such matters.

We would also like to appeal to the Ukrainian Muslim community: we respect every human’s right for religious freedom, and our Ministry will always stand for the freedom on conscience it terms of current legislation. If you happen to witness any actions that are against the Ukrainian legislation and look like discrimination based on ethnicity or religion, you are welcome to approach the Department on Religions and Ethnicities!

We call upon all the parties for a dialogue!”

Mr.Koliada also voiced his personal concerns regarding that “operation”, namely why it was held on Friday and near a mosque specifically? Was there some factor of discrimination? He assured that the Ministry stands firm on the ground that such treatment of parishioners to any house of worship is unacceptable:

— This concerns everybody, not just Muslims: if any citizen feels somehow afflicted by any state authority, in particular in their freedom of conscience and religion - you are welcome to approach us! For us, this is the matter of utmost importance, for that’s not just a matter of image of our country, but a threat to its development and evolution in general!