Islamic Cultural Center in Kyiv
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Mykhaylo Yakubovych
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By March, 6, Ukrainian Muslim community has been stressed by the search in Islamic Cultural Center of Kyiv (where headquarters of Association “Alraid” and Religious Administration of Ukrainian Muslims “Ummah” are located). By the early morning a group of representatives from Kyiv public prosecutor's office, Ukrainian Security Service and local police started their search, being motivated by the court decision to open criminal case due to the “propagation of hostility” by some people from this Center. Search also has been completed in the home of Tariq Sarhan, one of the known Islamic activists in Ukraine. As a result, more than 60 of books were confiscated, first of all, “Violations of Monotheism” (by Saudi scholar ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Rais) and “Avoidance of Doubts” (by Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab). Other printed materials are no more than 55 copies of the book “Lawful and Unlawful in Islam” by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It must be remembered, that previously the same books were confiscated in Zhytomyr and Sumy mosques (last year), and at least one of these books has been declared by Ukrainian court in Odessa as the “extremist one” (in 2012); however, as to our knowledge, books by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi never get the attention of Ukrainian courts in the past.

However, Mufti Said Ismagilov, head of Religious Administration of Ukrainian Muslims “Ummah” clearly declared that the legal procedure of search has been violated since only one guard of the ICC was at this action; moreover, he said that the books “Violations of Monotheism” and “Avoidance of Doubts”  were brought to ICC by the same people who was responsible for the search and that Religious Administration of Ukrainian Muslims “Ummah” does not share the views stated in these books. Apart from the information from Kyiv public prosecutor's office that this action has been made in accordance with the criminal case without any violations of the rights of believers, no further official statements appeared.

As the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group notes in their report, journalist Taras Ibragimov was told by Olena Hitlyanska from the SBU that their officers were there merely as “technical personnel”.  The Kyiv prosecutor’s office confirms that the above-mentioned searches in Kyiv were carried out, as well as one in Poltava.  They say that the court order was “in order to identify wrongful actions by certain individuals”. The investigator’s application for the search warrant had stated that “unidentified individuals in Kyiv are circulating books in Russian about the cult and traditions of Islamic teaching whose texts contain words promoting religious intolerance”. 

By March, 7 Mufti Ismagilov (together with the leaders of the Islamic Cultural Centre and MPs) hold a press-conference at the Glavcom Agency. Ukrainian MPs (among them Refat Chubarov, the Head of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people) warned against such events since they could be used by Russia to persuade Crimean Muslims in bad situation with Islam in Ukraine and necessity to support Putin instead; another MP, Mustafa Nayem, claimed that this episode is a discrimination towards Ukrainian Muslims. As a result, Ukrainian Muslim community waits for the raise of the problem in Ukrainian Parliament; moreover, the community goes to the court to claim the violation of their rights.

What could be said to comment this issue is that both  Association “Alraid” and Religious Administration of Ukrainian Muslims “Ummah” belong to the “moderate Islam” (ideology of wasatiyah) and Islamic social activist model, represented on the European level by the Federation of Islamic Organizations of Europe. The books “found”, however, are coming from the most conservative Salafi background; no cases of public quotations from these books or any other kinds of propagation are known in Ukraine since the court decision in 2012 (towards independent Islamic NGO “The Straight Way”). Moreover, Mufti Said Ismagilov openly declared (after searches in Sumy) that this book is not used in religious practice if RAUM “Ummah”. Since the search is already third (starting from the one in April, 2017) and directed towards the same religious organization, a simple question appear: what is the real reason behind these events, since the long-lasting sporadic “searches” for the books which obviously contradict to the ideology of the religious organization they “found in” looks more like undeclared conflict with this community and not the establishment of justice. At least Ukrainian authorities must clarify the issue.

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