Jun 24, 2015

Crimean Tatars: Ramadan Unites the Community under Russian Occupation

Crimean Tatars have joined all Muslims worldwide to pray during Ramadan in the mosque near the city of Sevastopol. For the Tatars, Ramadan represents an opportunity to come together, as an increasing number of Muslims come to the mosque during gatherings that are more frequent during this period, amid the controversial political situation.


Below is an article published by Ukraine Today:

Tatars on the Crimean Peninsula join Muslim worshippers worldwide for prayers during Ramadan, over a year after Russia invaded the Ukrainian Black Sea territory, the Tatars' indigenous homeland. This mosque is some 45 minutes' drive from the city of Sevastopol, home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Some 300,000 Crimean Tatars are thought to live in the occupied region – many of whom have faced persecution under the Kremlin-appointed authorities. They largely boycotted the sham referendum on seceding from Ukraine in March 2014 – and since then have faced the consequences. The self-styled authorities have banned Crimean Tatar leaders from the region, shut down the Crimean Tatar's TV channel and prohibited commemorations marking Stalin's deportation of their group to central Asia.

But for the Muslim minority group, Ramadan provides an opportunity for the community to unite, amid the political uncertainty.

Assadullah Bairov, Spiritual Directorate of Muslims in Crimea: "Ramadan takes a special place in the lives of the Muslims. Muslims try to do more good during Ramadan, to come to mosque more often. For now, I cannot provide any statistic whether there are more people (coming to mosque this year) or not, but it is a fact that every year more people come to the mosque, and less empty places are left there. And that makes us happy,"

But with international demands for Crimea to be returned to Ukraine now withering, the peninsula's native inhabitants could face further turbulent times ahead, with much of their future fate lying in the hands of the Kremlin.