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Moscow Police Detains Dozens of Muslims after Friday Prayers

MOSCOW – About 100 Muslims were shocked after dozens of masked men in uniforms filled out a mosque in the town of Mytishchi north of Moscow, detaining them after finishing Friday prayers.

“We were loaded into buses and unloaded like potato sacks,” Magomed Khabibirov was cited as saying by the Mediazona news website, The Moscow Times reported.

According to media sources, worshippers were surrounded by dozens of policemen who detained them.

An eyewitness said he was told by a plainclothes officer that units were called in response to complaints about a mass gathering.

They ordered the worshippers to board two buses, where Khabibirov said they were held for several hours.

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“They haven’t filed any report or anything. We just sat there for five hours and were released in the end,” he was quoted as saying.

“They’ve told us absolutely nothing.”

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Residents near the Mytishchi mosque could not have complained about the mass gathering because they know that Friday prayers occur there every week, Khabibirov added.

With an official population of 12.5 million, Russia’s capital is now home to at least 1.5 million Muslims, according to political analyst Alexei Malashenko.

In Moscow, Muslims, either Russian-born or immigrant, secular or practicing, don’t feel welcome.

With only six mosques in the large city, attempts to build new ones have been met with protests and rallies.

There are only two halal hotels in the city that sees millions of visitors a year. The city’s only Muslim gym and health clinic closed down shortly after opening.

Despite the large number of Muslim population in the city, there are only a handful of Muslim kindergartens or schools.

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