On Tuesday morning a fight broke between Tatars, living in Poland since 14th century as minority, representing Muslim Religious Associations (MZR) and supporters of imam Nizar Charif, Salafists – Muslim fundamentalists and converts. Several police vehicles were directed to the mosque.
The background of the dispute is control over the mosque belonging to MZR, the oldest Polish Muslim organization established by Tatar minority, fully integrated into Polish society.
“It cannot be that in a Polish mosque things over which we can loose control are happening. It is a center of MZR and it comes under mufti and Highest Muslim Collegium”, explains in an interview with euroislam.pl Musa Chachorowski, MZR’s speaker. “It has to function according to rules, that are agreed between Polish state and MZR, nearly 100 years ago”, continues relating to the bill between Polish State and MZR from 1936 regulating structure of MZR and relations between religion and state.
But what exactly concerns MZR that mufti tried to intervene? “Perhaps some, overzealous persons are of opinion that they cannot function according to the Polish law as Muslims, as if the Polish law obliged them i.e. to drink vodka, eat pork or watch naked dancers”, says Czachorowski.
In the past three years the mosque indeed has been visited by some Salafi preachers, starting from aggrandized visit of Mission Dawah from the United Kingdom.
There were also attempts by German Salafists, led by Salafi preacher Sven Lau, to export Salafi Islam to Poland.
The relations between MZR and imam Nezar Charif are not clear. Altough he is known in the news media as the “imam of the mosque at Wiertnicza Street”, MZR’s spokesman says that “Charif has not got any official function in MZR structures, although as a Muslim he cannot be prohibited from entering the mosque”. On the other hand Charif leads Muslim Cultural Center that is seated in MZR’s mosque.
Euroislam was not able to contact Nezar Charif, but journalist Witold Gadowski presented position of Salafists in the case. According to him, the issue concerns finances coming to mosque from halal food certification and donations from Muslim states’ embassies. Imam Charif does not want to share that money with MZR and MZR as owner of the mosque feels entitled to them.
Tatars have been living in Poland since 14th century and are fully integrated into the Polish society. They settled in Poland often as political refugees from Crimea and were given full rights. For centuries they have defended the country by serving as soldiers, fighting for Polish independence. In the same way as a former soldier, journalist and a poet, Musa Czachorowski. Currently they are even minority among Polish Muslims as they count only 5 000 people.
In recent years, however, there have been warnings from the Tatar minority that they are afraid of inflow of Middle Eastern Islam. Their moderate, integrated version of Islam is perceived by those coming from Middle East or Africa as heresy or even a threat.
Profesor Selim Chazbijewicz, Polish ambassador to Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan, former MZR ‘s imam is critical of immigration from Muslim countries. “Experience so far has shown that they are unlikely to assimilate, or at least certainly will not do so in the first or second generation”, said in a recent interview criticizing decision of former government to agree on relocation quota proposed by European Commission.