The Estonian Islamic Congregation, which is a non-governmental organization (NGO), currently only accepts members from seven other NGOs, all based on ethnic groups, but not Estonians or Russians.
The congregation, which oversees the religion in Estonia, is made up of seven NGOs, each one representing one ethnic group of Azeris, Tatars, Bashkirs, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs and Turkmens, Eesti Päevaleht reported.
Other NGOs can join the congregation, but will have to have been existed for a minimum of three years first. An NGO of Estonian Muslims was set up two years ago.
The congregation held its first general meeting in 11 years, drawing questions on the subject why Estonian Muslims, and other recent converts, cannot join the congress straight away.
Congregation board member Niyazi Hadžijev said they cannot accept a situation where random people claim to be Muslims and can go and sit on the board, adding that the community wants to maintain control over its member base.
Villu Männik, who spoke for ethnic Estonian Muslims, said that Estonians are currently not allowed to join the Estonian Islamic Congregation. “In principle, all religions are non-nationalistic. Religion does not look at a persons ethnicity,” he said, adding that he is not sure if Estonian Muslims will want to join the congregation after the three years is up.
Editor: J.M. Laats