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Russia's Muslims issue new statement on Iraq

Moscow, 7 April: The Spiritual Board of Muslims of Russia and CIS European Countries has issued a new statement concerning the war in Iraq.

On Thursday 3 April its leader Supreme Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin told Interfax that his organization had declared a jihad against the United States. "Russia's Muslims have effective levers of influence in the United States. We will set up a fund to raise donations that will be used to buy weapons to fight against the United States and to purchase food for the people of Iraq."

Meanwhile, in its statement circulated today, the board said that "all speculations and insinuations over the board's peaceful and humanitarian initiatives are a provocation, a smear campaign, blasphemy and an attempt to achieve certain ambitious, selfish goals".

Muslim leaders from the board voiced full support for Russian President Vladimir Putin's policy calling for settlement of the Iraq crisis through peaceful means on the basis of international law and the UN Charter.

At the same time, the organization called not to attend rallies and demonstrations but, instead, "to go to churches and pray for peace in Iraq and in the whole world". "We are praying to God to make the anti-Iraq coalition's leaders and soldiers repent," the document reads.

The board also advised Russia's Muslims "not to watch films made by anti-Iraq coalition members, as these films humiliate our national pride and violate religious principles".

The spiritual board also suggested raising donations via local Muslim organizations to provide medicine and food to the suffering Iraqi people.

Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 0923 gmt 7 Apr 03

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