Mosque Construction Halted After Protest
City Hall has shelved plans to build a mosque in the Mitino district, one day after a massive unsanctioned protest by inhabitants of the northwestern suburb. The decision was made by the city's urban planning commission Thursday after authorities received a large number of complaints from citizens, local prefect Vladimir Goverdovsky told reporters, Interfax reported.
About 2,000 people gathered outside a high-rise apartment complex in Mitino late Wednesday to protest the construction of a large Muslim center, to include a mosque, on a nearby field. A video posted on YouTube showed people chanting, "No mosque!"
Toward the end of the three-minute clip, recorded at around sunset, people sing an Orthodox prayer while Leonid Simonovich, founder of the fundamentalist Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers, gestures with a cross in his hand.
Police temporarily detained four participants of the unsanctioned rally for violating the administrative code. A justice of the peace is expected to fine them on Friday, Interfax reported.
Police said three of the four detained were not locals but residents of different city districts and the Moscow region, prompting speculation that nationalist groups were behind the protest.
According to media reports, the rally was organized by locals over the Internet, but the presence of nationalist leaders suggested that local resistance was being used by right-wing groups.