Kadyrov Opens Big Mosque in Grozny

APMuslims playing national instruments at the opening of a mosque named after Akhmad Kadyrov in Grozny on Friday.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov opened one of Europe's biggest mosques in Grozny on Friday, saying it was proof that Russian rule and Islam could go together.

The mosque, named after Kadyrov's late father and constructed by Turkish builders, can host up to 10,000 worshipers. Its minarets rise as high as 62 meters, and the complex -- called the Heart of Chechnya -- covers 14 hectares, including a vast garden.

"With the start of the Chechen war, the enemies of Islam and foes of Russia claimed that Russia was waging war against Islam and the Chechen people," Kadyrov said at the opening ceremony.

Russia has fought two wars in Chechnya against Muslim rebels but has succeeded in largely pacifying the region and has spent large sums repairing war damage. Kadyrov's father, Akhmad, was a former rebel mufti who sided with Moscow in the second war. He was instrumental in imposing Russian rule in Chechnya but was assassinated in a bomb blast during a Victory Day parade in Grozny in 2004.

"The adversaries of Russia's revival used the Chechen republic and Islam as an instrument to destroy Russia as a sovereign state," Ramzan Kadyrov told a gathering of about 2,500 people from 28 countries Friday. "But the Chechens ... have defended the integrity of Russia and the purity of Islam."

The Grozny mosque, which Russian and Chechen officials said is one of the biggest in Europe, will also host an Islamic institute, a religious library, a hotel and a dormitory for students.

The walls of the mosque are decorated with travertine marble and white marble, and verses from the Quran are rendered in gold, RIA-Novosti reported.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the mosque on Thursday.

(Reuters, MT)