Turkish imams expelled from Crimea

The enforced departures of the Turkish imams and teachers came as a wide range of religious communities in Crimea have said that they have come under surveillance by Russias security service

Turkish imams expelled from Crimea

World Bulletin / News Desk

 The enforced departure of the last of the original 23 Turkish imams and teachers who had been working in Crimea at the invitation of the Muslim Board means that all its imams and religious teachers are now local people, the Muslim Board spokesperson told Forum 18.

According to Forum 18 News Service, all but five of 23 Turkish imams and religious teachers invited by the Crimean Muftiate under a 20-year-old programme have been forced to leave Crimea as Russia’s Federal Migration Service refused to extend their residence permits.

“If they want to begin mission work in Crimea they will need a visa from the Russian embassy in Turkey in accordance with Russian law,” Yana Smolova of the Federal Migration Service insisted to Forum 18. Despite being told that the Turkish imams and religious teachers were not seeking to “begin mission work in Crimea” but to continue work they have been doing in Crimea at the invitation of the Muftiate over many years, Smolova said the requirement to get a visa in their home country was irrespective of their work visa.

The Turkish imams and teachers had been supplied by the Turkish government's Diyanet (Presidency of Religious Affairs) under a programme that has been running for 20 years. "These Turkish imams and teachers helped our communities to develop and people liked them and got used to them," a Muftiate spokesperson told Forum 18 in August 2014. "Of course we wanted them to continue working here. We can’t invite anyone now as they say we have no legal status,” said Jemil Bibishev “They told us we need to register first and then to reapply". When Crimea's chief mufti Emirali Ablaev met Mehmet Görmez, the head of the Turkish government's Diyanet in Ankara in November 2014, he stressed the continuing need for Turkish teachers and imams to be based in Crimea. ""We've done all we can within our competence". A Russian law from 31 December 2014 extended the deadline for re-registering religious communities (and other entities) in Crimea until 1 March 2015.

The enforced departures of the Turkish imams and teachers came as a wide range of religious communities in Crimea complained to Forum 18 of surveillance by the Russian FSB security service.
Representatives of a range of religious communities have told Forum 18 that they are under surveillance by the FSB security service. Greek Catholic priest Fr Bogdan Kostetsky has been summoned several times. Among the questions were some about his attitude to Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky, who led the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church until his death in 1944. The duty officer at the Yevpatoriya FSB told Forum 18 he had never heard that Fr Kostetsky had been summoned.

Despite these concerns among a variety of religious communities, Aksyonov insists that his authorities will defend the rights of religious believers. "The rights of Crimea's religious believers, regardless of their confessional adherence, are well protected," he claimed on 19 January, in remarks quoted on the Crimean government website.

Last Mod: 04 Şubat 2015, 12:23
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