Moscow Patriarchate alarmed by Imam's murder, attacks on shrines

Moscow, Russia - Recent attacks on mosques, synagogues, and chapels in a number of Russian cities and towns, and the murder of an imam in Kislovodsk, are leading to the destruction of inter-religious accord in Russia, Moscow Patriarchate spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin said.

"Peaceful co-existence between believers has again been subjected to trials. This can be beneficial only to Russia's enemies, only to those who hate inter-religious harmony, which is this country's strong point," Father Vsevolod told Interfax.

He described the fact that "so many flagrant crimes against places of worship and then against a prominent cleric have been committed in just several days" as "deeply sad and alarming."

"Vandals have attacked synagogues in Khabarovsk and Astrakhan, a mosque in Yaroslavl, and an Orthodox chapel in Novokuibyshevsk. After that, a religious leader in Kislovodsk who firmly adhered to the positions of Islam traditional to Russia was killed," Chaplin said.

All these crimes were committed "as if at someone's command, within several days, in the run-up to a Muslim fast and Orthodox and Jewish holidays," Father Vsevolod said.

"It is especially important for adherents of different religions in these circumstances to support each other in these common tribulations," he said.