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10638Church bells strike false note with Muslims

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Dec 27, 2008
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      December 27, 2008, 12:35
      Church bells strike false note with Muslims

      The Muslim community in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod region is opposing
      plans to include church bells in a proposed new regional anthem.
      Local authorities had earlier set a competition to compose an anthem
      for the region.

      The work is still being composed and officials say the last thing
      they want to do is to hurt people's feelings.

      The Muslim community wanted the regional governor to change some of
      the rules of the contest. Using the sound of church bells was
      mandatory and Muslim leaders thought this alienated other ethnic and
      religious groups.

      "There should be no political or religious themes in the anthem. It
      should be something that uplifts people and brings them together. I
      think including religion goes against this." Said Gayaz Zakirov,
      spiritual leader of the region's Muslims.

      The national anthem contains church bells, which are seen as a sign
      of Russian tradition as much as a sign of Orthodox woship.

      "The tradition of bellringing is a very ancient tradition, dating
      from Old Testament times, which was adopted by the Orthodox Church,"
      said Orthodox priest Igor Pchelintsev.

      The authorities have now decided to scrap the competition and hire a
      professional composer instead. Hopefully, the end result will be
      something that all sides can agree on.

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