Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a stark warning over growing religious violence in Europe, suggesting that “smouldering conflicts” over faith can linger for years, becoming a powder keg which can eventually explode.
Speaking in Moscow on Wednesday, as Russia celebrated National Unity Day, he told reporters, “it is important to understand that the world is undergoing profound changes. Traditional values are facing serious challenges. The most complex, extremely sensitive issues of interethnic and inter-religious relations are, unfortunately, sometimes the subject of speculation, [and] untidy geopolitical games.”
His comments come a day after he sent condolences to the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, after an Islamist terror attack left four dead in the capital, Vienna. Putin reiterated that the international and interfaith world is of chief importance for Russia and required the concerted attention of authorities.
French President Emmanuel Macron has faced growing pressure from majority-Muslim countries over remarks made in the aftermath of the beheading of a schoolteacher in Paris. Samuel Paty, 47, was reportedly targeted after showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his class. Mr Macron has since lashed out at what he called “Muslim separatism” in his country, leading to protests and a boycott of French goods across the Islamic world.
President Putin appeared to weigh into the debate over the cartoons, which have caused outrage among many Muslims, saying “we see what the actions of all kinds of provocateurs, those who, under the cover of freedom of speech, offend the feelings of believers, and those who use it as an excuse to justify violence and intolerance.”
He warned that Russia was not exempt from similar issues around religious freedom, adding “the result here is the same: conflicts are growing like snowballs in society, and they can fester for years and decades.”
Russia is home to more than 14 million Muslims, making it the second most widely observed religion after Orthodox Christianity.
Credit: RT News