Gamet Suleymanov: We do not know why the mosque still remains closed – EXCLUSIVE

Gamet Suleymanov: We do not know why the mosque still remains closed – <font color=red>EXCLUSIVE  </font>
# 18 November 2008 13:03 (UTC +04:00)
-Why did you go to Kuwait?

-The aim of my visit to Kuwait was to participate in the event held for protection of Prophet Muhammad. But some thought I had fled. I have no reason to flee. I am doing my work, I continue my activity though the mosque is closed. Simply our activity is unorganized. All used to gather in Abu Bakr mosque before. It means that others will suffer from closure of the mosque. We should thank God that we have Abu Bakr mosque.

-The mosque has been closed for three months. How do you feel?

- I feel like a fish out of water. For a religious man mosque plays a great role. One feels more comfortable in the mosque than at home.

- Where do you gather after the closure of the mosque?

-In other mosques or houses…

-When will the mosque open?

-We also want the investigation to continue. But we do not know why the mosque still remains closed. We have appealed to court. The next hearing will be held tomorrow. We expect the court to pass a fair decision. We will struggle till the end within the framework of the law.

-What are the arguments of the opposite side in the court?

-For example, they say a girl is molested, or little ones are made to wash cars. But a mosque can not be closed because of these reasons. We underwent terrorist act, because we protest against radicalism. Some radical persons had performed namaz in our mosque before, later they left it. Some of them have come from foreign countries.

-Who are they?

-Scientists call them people of jihad and differently. They only think about jihad. There are some forces in Azerbaijan, though they are weak. Abu Bakr mosque showed strong resistance to them. We are raising awareness. Closing the mosque under these circumstances is in their interests. The main aim of the radicals was to close Abu Bakr.

-What does the State Committee on Work with Religious Associations tell you?

- The attitude of the committee is cool. We had expected them to help us, but they did not do it. It is their duty to help religious communities.

-The State Committee says that your community functioned in Ulvi Bunyadzadeh Street, but it was not your legal address. That’s why you have no right to demand the opening of the mosque…

-Without permission it is impossible even to make a nest. How did it happen that the mosque functioned illegally for 10 years? Our community was established in 1998 and registered in Ulvi Bunyadzadeh Street. The community can also function without a mosque. The foundation of the mosque was laid in 1997, a year later it was opened. I have been Imam of the mosque since 1998. In 2002 when the State Committee on Work with Religious Associations was established all the communities were reregistered. At that time we prepared and submitted all the documents. We were told that a house must be shown as the address of the community. And I showed the place where I live as the community’s address. So, we submitted all the necessary documents. The State Committee did not demand the reference of the Caucasian Muslims Office. Former chief of the committee Rafig Aliyev registered all communities without the reference of the Sheikh. So, this is not our problem. We submitted the documents that the State Committee had demanded from us. Nearly two months before the terrorist act was committed in the mosque, the State Committee on Work with Religious Associations had phoned us and said they wanted to register the places where the communities were functioning as their legal addresses. We agreed to it. But later they postponed it.

-What can you say about Sheikhulislam Haji Allahshukur Pashazadeh’s views on the registration of your community?

-We always had normal relations with Sheikh. We respect him. We would like Sheikh to help open the mosque. He is an influential man both in the country and abroad.
-How many supporters do you have?

-We did not count them, but we saw the most people understood us after that incident. There was plenty of incorrect information about us as if we are the spies of some countries and receive money from them.

-In fact there is such opinion in the society now like a poor man went to Abu Bakr mosque and now he drives Jeep. Do the people talk about what they see?

-Maybe someone changes own material conditions. People can become rich, there is nothing strange. It doesn’t relate to the mosque. We don’t share money there. We help the invalids and poor families. We are sometimes laughing at what the people say about us. We never were against the state and its leader. Muslims of 21st century are thinking differently. Today the world faces with increasing radicalism. There is no religious education in the Azerbaijani society. We are doing this work. Arrest of radical people doesn’t resolve the problem. They are leaving the prison more radicalized.

- All the society knows you as vahhabit, but you claim that you are not vahhabits. If you are strong, as you say, why you cannot disburden the vahhabit name?

-We are men of Sunnah. We ask them why they name us as vahhabit? Do short trousers and beard mean vahhabism? Most of the Abu Bakr visitors do not have beard. Such wearing is only observing the religious rules. Such opinion arises from the illiteracy. The people will know everything gradually.

-Where does your community receive financial resources from?

- From the visitors of the mosque. This is not so much. Shops in that territory are owned by the people living there. We are renters only.

- Is your family believer too?

-Yes, all of my family members are believers. I have two little sons, Abdullah and Ali. My sons stand by me during namaz.

-You were injured in the explosion in the mosque. How do you feel now?

-I had some shrapnel wounds. I want to undergo treatment to remove the splinters. Our main task is now re-opening of Abu Bakr mosque. We must know our work if it does not re-open. There are some forces who don’t want the mosque to open again, but I feel that the mosque will not be closed.

-There are rumors that some of your supporters were arrested.

-Nobody of my assistants and close supporters was arrested.