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Moslems in the U.S.S.R.

For two years it has been our desire to print a special issue of this journal devoted exclusively to the problems facing "Islam and Moslems in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics."  In this connection, a small grant was made to MOSLEM WORLD & THE U.S.A. last year by a New York City organization for research purposes.

We knew all along that Joseph Stalin was a bad man in the fullest sense of the expression, and that he was personally responsible for the reign of terror which was marked by the massacre of thousands of Moslems- in Turkestan, Idel-Ural, Crimea, Azerbaijan and North Caucasus - and banishment of hundreds of others to Siberia.  At Stalin's command, a very large number of mosques and institutions of Islamic learning were either destroyed or turned into warehouses, entertainment halls and garages.  We also believed that it was impossible for foreign Moslems to develop any contact with their brethren in the U.S.S.R. as long as the notorious dictator was alive.  A well-known missionary of Islam, the Late Maulana Shah Mohammed Abdul-Aleem Siddiqui, of Pakistan, had repeatedly sought to enter the Soviet Union between the years 1940 and 1952 but in vain.

For some time now, however, there seems to be a change of heart in the Kremlin.  Stalin the Bad Man has been officially denounced by the new regime in Moscow and by World Communism and the myth of the dead monster is in the process of being obliterated.

The new rulers of Moscow have also relaxed a large number of curbs which were formerly imposed upon travelers from outside the U.S.S.R.  Scores of prominent Americans, public servants, businessmen, artists and official representatives of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, have since been able to enter and tour that country.

So far as the Moslem world is concerned, we know of only three distinguished individuals who have so far "made it" to Moscow, and these are the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Yemen and Their Majesties the Shah and Queen Soraya of Iran, who visited the Soviet Union as Kremlin's guests.  We know that later in the year two more distinguished Moslems are scheduled to pay official visit to Moscow - President Sukarno of Indonesia and President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt.

However, what about a contact between the U.S.S.R. Moslems and those of the rest of Islamdom on a peoples' level? How exactly are the Moslems in the U.S.S.R. living today? Are they still being harassed by the M.V.D. (secret police) and persecuted on account of their religion and worship of Allah?  Are they now free to build and maintain mosques and Islamic schools for their sons and daughters? - Or are they still in shackles of slavery and dreadful conditions reminiscent of the Stalin Era?  We sincerely doubt the high Moslem dignitaries visiting Moscow would bring an answer to these questions.

MOSLEM WORLD & THE U.S.A. is most anxious to make an on-the-spot survey of Moslem life in the U.S.S.R. today.  We shall have to observe the situation with our own eyes to believe that the freedom of religion, long denied it Moslem subjects by the Soviet Government, has been or is being restored to them.  We wonder, therefore, if Moscow would see fit to allow an enquiring Moslem newspaperman from the United States of America to visit the Moslem-majority areas of Russia for the purpose of making a study of the general social and economic conditions there.

We hope Messers. Nikita S. Khrushcev and Nikolai A. Bulganin or Mr. Dmitri T. Shepilov would be good enough to enlighten us about this matter, and soon.


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[[image - half-tone photograph of statue of Stalin]]

Stalin's Statue Stands Guard in Front of Moviehouse that was Once a Mosque

Will justice and religious freedom be restored to the Soviet Union's 35 million Moslems?

AUGUST-SEPT. 1956    7