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Russian leaders decry arson attacks on churches

ICC Note

Muslim radicals are suspects in the arson attacks against the Churches. Muslim groups are fighting to establish an Islamic state in the region

11/02/2010 Russia (ABP) – Political and religious leaders in Russia’s mainly Muslim North Caucasus region denounced arson attacks on two Russian Orthodox churches and one Baptist church overnight on Nov. 1.

An Orthodox church in the village of Ordzhonikidzevsky in the province of Karachayevo-Cherkessia was nearly destroyed totally, according to Interfax, a news agency that covers business interests in Russia, China and emerging markets in Eurasia.
Two other churches in the nearby city of Karachaevsk were damaged but saved by night attendants. No one was injured in any of the blazes.

Authorities don’t know who is responsible, but the attacks on churches appeared to be part of a growing Islamic insurgency within predominantly Christian Russia seeking an independent state where they could establish Islamic law.
Ismail Berdiev, the head of regional spiritual administration for Muslims, told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti he believed attempts to damage Christian churches were aimed at destabilizing the mixed Christian and Muslim society of the southern Russian republic.

“Whatever religion a person believes in, he won’t raise his hand against a temple or a mosque alike, for both of them are houses of God,” Berdiev said.
Archbishop Feofan of the Christian-majority cities of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz in the North Caucasus called the attacks “a well-planned provocation” but said they would not succeed in creating enmity between Orthodox and Muslim believers.
“It should by no means be said that the Muslims are to blame,” he said. “You can’t judge all people by individual incidents. Policemen are killed and so are muftis, but the way the attacks are orchestrated is the same. These are attempts to destabilize inter-religious peace, but they are futile.”

Karachayevo-Cherkessia President Boris Ebzeyev ordered immediate measures to prevent the burning down of churches.

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