A masked gunman entered a Russian Orthodox church in Moscow Nov. 19 and shot a priest who had been preaching to Muslims and warning about the growing Muslim minority in Russia, according to an article in this morning’s New York Times.
Father Daniil Sysoyev, 34, died on his way to hospital. The church’s choir master also had been injured in the attack and was in the hospital under armed guard.
Father Sysoyev had been receiving death threats for some time because he was converting Muslims and criticizing Islam, prosecutors and Church officials said. But that didn’t stop him.
In a February 2008 television interview, he said he had received 10 threats by e-mail for decapitation if he did not stop preaching to Muslims.
“As I see it, it is not a sin to preach to Muslims,” said Father Sysoyev, who was originally from Tatarstan, a predominantly Muslim area on the Volga River.
In a video lecture posted on YouTube, Father Sysoyev also denied that Islam is a religion in the same way Christianity is. “Islam can be rather compared with projects like National Socialism or the Communist party seeking to create God’s kingdom on Earth using human instruments,” he said.
The priest also wrote books, including An Orthodox Response to Islam and Marrying a Muslim, in which he advised Russian women against taking a Muslim partner.
Orthodox bishops have complained that Islam is spreading fast among a sprawling community of migrants from predominantly Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union.
Russia’s Chief Mufti Ravil Gainuddin expressed his condolences to the Orthodox Church and to Father Sysoyev’s family.
“We want to say that we oppose any expressions of terrorism and extremism,” he told reporters. “Islam denounces terror, and the murder of an imam, an Orthodox priest, is an awful sin.”
Source: National Catholic Register