However deep Russian propaganda has sunk in its wickedness, it goes deeper by the day. On Thursday, they spread on social media an obviously fabricated video intended to drive a wedge between Ukrainian Christians and Muslims as well as between Ukraine and the Islamic world.
In the video, soldiers in Ukrainian uniform first cut salo – cured pork fat – on a Quran and then use its pages to kindle a fire.
“Fake video alert!” tweeted Oleh Nikolenko, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman. “Russia staged a clip with unknown people claiming to be Ukrainian soldiers cutting pork on a Quran and burning its pages. They speak broken Ukrainian and use a Russian army knife. Russia must be condemned for insulting Islam in an attempt to discredit Ukraine.”
Fake video alert! Russia staged a clip with unknown people claiming to be Ukrainian soldiers cutting pork on a Quran and burning its pages. They speak broken Ukrainian and use a Russian army knife. Russia must be condemned for insulting Islam in an attempt to discredit Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/aVHERA3D1C
— Oleg Nikolenko (@OlegNikolenko_) March 16, 2023
In a statement on Facebook, the Ukrainian Armed Forces say this staged video is one more attempt to discredit Ukrainian defenders, stir up wrath in Islamic countries and motivate the Russian Muslims to go to war.
“We officially emphasize once again that such facts are impossible in the Armed Forces [of Ukraine] by default since defending Ukraine and fighting against the occupiers in our troops are people of various ethnic origins and confessions. All of them are Heroes for our people, and their rights, positions and conviction are protected without fail,” the statement reads.
Like the Foreign Ministry spokesman, the Armed Forces of Ukraine also draw attention to the knife, which they say is one of the paratrooper knifes Russia have procured for its special unit Akhmat.
The Religious Information Service of Ukraine points out that it’s not the first time Russia has used the sacred book of Muslims for its dirty tricks. In January, a Quran was burnt near the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, which is believed to be organized by Russia to hinder Sweden’s accession to NATO.
Probably most important in this context is the statement by the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine “Umma.”
“The Russians cannot defeat us on the battlefield, so they resort to various fakes and manipulations. The main goal is to cause strife and internal confrontation in Ukrainian society,” says Umma.
“Ukraine has always featured an extremely high level of religious freedom and mutual respect of representatives of different faiths for each other. For us, interfaith dialogue, brotherhood and freedom of religion are not empty talks. In Ukraine, Muslims are an integral part of civil society, enjoy all rights, can freely practice and preach their religion and build mosques and Islamic centers,” the Umma statement also reads.
Umma reminds that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Russians have destroyed and seriously damaged at least five Ukrainian mosques, persecuted imams in the temporarily occupied territories and killed dozens of their fold at the front and in the rear.
“Muslims of Ukraine understand well that religious intolerance and Islamophobia are norms in Russia. And such videos should not mislead us about who our enemy is and what he is willing to do to achieve his goal,” the statement concludes.
In January, the Ukrainian World Congress posted a story about Said Ismagilov, former head of Umma. After the full-scale invasion began, Ismagilov left his post of mufti, which he had held for 13 years, and took up arms to defend Ukraine.
“I have no doubts about our victory. I want to say to all the soldiers, defenders, volunteers, to all those who work for Ukraine in one way or another, that victory does not begin with weapons: it always begins in the head and in the heart,” said Ismagilov.