Might Zelenskyi play the Muslim card against Russia?

Ukrainian president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskyi meeting with the leaders of the Muslim community of Ukraine on May 2, 2019.

Ukrainian president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskyi meeting with the leaders of the Muslim community of Ukraine on May 2, 2019. 

Civil Society, Ukraine

Yesterday, incoming Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyi met with the leaders of the Muslim community of Ukraine for two hours, stressing the importance of religious comity in Ukraine and his hopes that Muslims there will succeed in attracting more foreign attention from wealthier Islamic countries.

He impressed his audience who included among others Said Ismagilov, head of the Umma Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Ukraine, Mufti Akhmed Takim of the Ukrainian MSD, and Ayder Rustamov of the Crimean MSD, all of whom stressed the commitment of their followers to helping all Ukrainians recover Russian-occupied Crimea and the Donbas (risu.org.ua and islamnews.ru).

Ismagilov has long argued for having the Muslims of Ukraine call on the Muslims of Russia not to fight against their fellow believers in Ukraine.

Perhaps more important and certainly more intriguing, the Umma mufti has frequently said that Ukrainians should make clear to everyone that “Muslims in Ukraine are full-fledged citizens and not as in Russia, second class ones.”

It is highly likely that Ismagilov took this opportunity to repeat that argument to Zelenskyi, stressing to him, as he has to others in the past, that playing the Muslim card against Russia is entirely appropriate given that Moscow has shown no reluctance in playing the religious card against Ukraine.

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Edited by: A. N.

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