Monday, November 17, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Unsolved Fire Bombings of Mosques in Occupied Crimea Sparks Fears about Russian Intentions

Paul Goble


            Staunton, November 17 – Fire bombings of Crimean Tatar mosques, the latest case of which occurred in Kos last week, have sparked fears that they are part of a broader effort by the Russian occupation authorities to intimidate or once again expel the Crimean Tatars from their homeland.


            So far, three leaders have denounced these barbaric actions and warned that they threaten to undermine ethnic relations on the peninsula – Emirali Ablayev, the mufti of Crimea, Refat Chubarov, the head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, and Mubeyyin Batu Altan, the head of the Crimean Tatar Research and Information Center in New York.


            In his statement, Mufti Ablayev said that the continuing attacks on Crimean Tatar mosques and the failure of the authorities to bring those responsible to justice was undermining inter-ethnic harmony and leading to a new outburst of “inter-ethnic hostility” (  and


            The mufti said that the Crimean Tatar Muslims had never responded in kind to such “provocations” and “aggression,” but he said that if such attacks continue and if the authorities fail to do anything, that could change.


            “Attacks on monasteries, synagogues, churches or mosques are impermissible in any civilized country,” the mufti said, especially in a place like Crimea “where the representatives of various nationalities and faiths” live close together. Attacks on one can lead to disasters of various kinds.


            Refat Chubarov, for his part, denounced the fire bombing of the Crimean Tatar mosque as “the latest barbaric act in an endless number of crimes committed by the occupation regimein the Crimean. He pointed out that this attack like the others show that Crimean Tatars are no longer safe in their own homeland (


            And Mubeyyin Batu Altan said in his appeal to the international community that “since the second Anschluss of Crimea on February 27, 2014 (the first annexation was in 1783), the Crimean/Russian authorities seem to be determined to use all sorts of means to pressure the Crimean Tatar people to leave their ancestral homeland once again so Russia will come a step closer to its centuries-long political dream, a ‘Crimean without Crimean Tatars.’”


            “The Crimean Tatars simply want to be able to resettle in their ancestral homeland, and peacefully co-exist there with the other ethnic people as their ancestors did,” he wrote. “They want to be able to go to their mosques and pray as their ancestors did.  They want this vandalism to stop!  They want their mosques to be left alone! Stop destroying the Crimean Tatar mosques!”


            (Musbeyyin Batu Altan kindly supplied a copy of his appeal to the author. Anyone who would like to receive it may email me at


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