Moscow: Around 140 thousand Muslims gathered at mosques in Moscow Wednesday to celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice, a Muslim festival dedicated to Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), according to the local media.
The main celebrations took place at and near the newly-opened Moscow Cathedral Mosque, where over 80,000 Muslims offered the Eid al-Adha prayers, police told Interfax.
The celebration of Eid al-Adha – known as Kurban Bayram in Russia – began at 06:30 local time (03:30 GMT).
The annual Eid al-Adha prayers at Moscow Cathedral Mosque was carried out by Russian Grand Mufti Rawil Gaynetdin who opened the mosque on Wednesday, along with President Vladimir Puti, RIA Novosti said in a report.
"The Muslims are praying for peace in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other countries “where the blood is being shed,” said Mufti Gaynetdin.
“Our religion…calls for peace and respect for other peoples. We will never take such ideological directions, which make our youth ‘zombies’ so that they would take the route of those who will kill their brothers in faith and destroy cities and cultural heritage sites,” he said.
The Moscow Cathedral Mosque, said to be largest in Russia, was opened by President Putin in the presence of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, according to The New York Times.
President Putin used the occasion to emphasize that Russia would develop its own system of religious education and training to counter extremism.
Known as the Moscow Cathedral Mosque, the grand structure can accommodate 10,000 people on three stories and replaces a much smaller building erected in 1904. The previous two-story mosque, with a squat dome and two short minarets, held only 1,000 people.
“Finally, Moscow, which lays claim to the title of the biggest Muslim city in Europe, has a big mosque,” said Aleksei Malashenko, an expert on Islam at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It shows that the center of Islamic life in the Russian Federation is in Moscow.”
There are just three other official mosques in a city with a Muslim population that could be as high as two million. Muslims make up about 16 percent of the population in Moscow - a city of 12.5 million.