RELIGION

Moscow's Muslim Population Flourishes Despite Animosity

Russian Muslims pray outside the central mosque in Moscow on July 17, 2015, during celebrations of Eid al-Fitr marking the en
Russian Muslims pray outside the central mosque in Moscow on July 17, 2015, during celebrations of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Moscow, Russia - Surrounded by movable metal fences and police, they placed their prayer rugs and shreds of wallpaper on the cold asphalt along the tram tracks.

Then they planted their feet and exhaled "God is great!" They bent, knelt, and prostrated in front of the golden-domed Sobornaya mosque despite the bewildered and scared faces of passersby and baton-wielding police officers around them.

More than 60,000 Muslims gathered at the square and five temporarily blocked streets around Moscow's main mosque, with an additional 180,000 gathering at five other mosques and three dozen temporary sites in Moscow and the greater Moscow region, to mark the end of this year's holy month of Ramadan, police said.

Each person had to pass through a metal detector and undergo an identification check.

Some Muslims were indignant about the treatment they faced on one of the year's holiest days.

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