Medvedev to discuss possible enlargement of hajj quota with Saudi Arabia.

5/7 Tass 359

NALCHIK, July 5 (Itar-Tass) —— President Dmitry Medvedev promised muftis on Tuesday to discuss the enlargement of the Russian hajj quota with Saudi Arabia.

The request was made by Chairman of the Coordinating Center of North Caucasian Muslims Ismail Berdiyev.

In his words, the number of Muslims wishing to make a hajj was much larger than the quota of 20,000 and asked the president for assisting the lift of that restriction.

It is possible to enlarge the quota for a start, Berdiyev said.

“The quota is not set by us. Saudi Arabia does that. We may speak to them; we have a frank dialog. We will ask this question,” Medvedev said.

Berdiyev also suggested to involve muftis in the settlement of complicated disputes, including unfounded accusations of representatives of federal agencies operating in the North Caucasus. “So far, not a single department wants to speak to us,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, Supreme Mufti, head of the Central Muslim Department Talgat Tadzhuddin said that the teaching of religions at secondary schools must be regulated. “The main principle in the education of schoolchildren is the absence of their division by religion. Fundamental values coincide in various religions,” he said.

However, it is necessary to bear in mind the religious peculiarities. “We think that more profound studies of certain religious peculiarities would be possible,” he said.

He also touched upon the training of clerics to serve in the Russian Armed Forces. The Defense Ministry shall give support to the selection of future clerics from among career officers who may receive religious training at large theological centers, he said.

It is also necessary to regulate the training of clerics abroad, as the majority of such scholars study abroad at their own initiative, Tadzhuddin said. “Only students who receive basic training at Russian religious schools should go abroad,” he said, adding that such students would be attested upon their return before receiving the permission to involve in religious activities in the home country.

Chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis Ravil Gainutdin told the president that the latter’s idea to open an Islamic television channel he proposed two years ago was still not implemented.

Gainutdin asked the president to assist the regulation of examination of religious books. He said that expert centers should be used for that purpose in every federal district of Russia.

He asked for considering a ban on particular religious books at the supreme courts of regions or, in the case of a nationwide ban, at the Russian Supreme Court.

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