Comment: ‘Terrorists are just bandits’

Extract from a speech given by His Excellency Vladimir P Mikhalov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Maldives, to mark the opening of the ‘Muslims of Russia’ exhibition in Malé.

Unfortunately I have to change my proposed speech. Just two days ago in Moscow terrorists planted two explosives killing 38 people and injuring dozens of innocents.

The law enforcement agencies of Russia have already established that the terrorist attack was conducted by two female suicide bombers from the northern Caucasus Mountains.

This region is populated mostly by Muslims and unfortunately around 20 years ago, just after disintegration of the Soviet Union, some selfish local leaders decided to take advantage of the weakness of the central government and create their own small kingdoms.

By calling on terrorist and anti-Russian circles from abroad, they declared ‘jihad’ on Russia and started their fighting.

But they were not supported by the majority of people were condemned by the Islamic spiritual leaders of the region. That’s why they were defeated and peace in general was restored.

Nevertheless up to now their remnants continue to be financed from abroad by interests attempting to destabilise the situation in Russia through terrorist attacks.

I should tell you that neither Russia’s government nor its people have ever associated terrorism with Islam and we have strongly stood against [this assumption] in all international foreign affairs.

We believe that terrorists have neither religion nor nationality – they are just bandits. Throughout the whole history of our country Christians and Muslims have lived side-by-side in peace a thousand years, which proves that peace is a natural thing among those who truly believe in one all-mighty and love their brothers and sisters regardless of their nationality and confession.

Islam is currently the second most widely professed religion in the Russian Federation with more than 20 million out of Russia’s 145 million being Muslim. There are Muslims in the Russian government, in the Parliament, in all ministries and for example, the Director of the Russian Cultural Centre in Colombo is also Muslim as is his wife.

But as we say in Russia: “better to see once than to hear hundred times”.

That’s why we decided to bring these photographs to Male’ and show you the beautiful mosques in various parts of Russia; modern Madrassas where thousands of people freely study Islam and the Holy Qur’an – Muslim men, women, children and elders in everyday life.

I wish the friendly people of the Republic of Maldives all the success in their development, as well as peace and prosperity.

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