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    VLADIMIR PUTIN CONGRATULATES MOSLEMS OF RUSSIA ON KURBAN-BAIRAM

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    MOSCOW, February 1, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the Moslems of Russia on their Kurban-Bairam holiday, the presidential press service reported on Sunday.

    The congratulatory message says in part:

    "I cordially congratulate the Moslems of Russia on the Kurban-Bairam holiday.

    "This holiday is being marked today under the sign of the further revival of the spiritual life of millions of the followers of Islam in our country.

    "Tolerance and good-neighbourliness, peaceful disposition and care of the near ones are real values of Islam. In our days they are acquiring especial importance, serve as a strong foundation of peace and accord and contribute to the unity of our multiethnic Homeland.

    "I am sure that the Russian Moslems will continue to make a worthy contribution to the course of strengthening the moral foundation of society and to the development of the fruitful inter-confessional dialogue.

    "From the bottom of my heart I wish you good health, happiness and wellbeing," noted the Russian President.

    The Moslems' main holiday, Id al-adha (in Arabic) or Kurban-Bairam (in the Tatar language), is marked in memory of Ibrahim's offering; in Islam he is believed to be the forefather of both the Arabs and Jews, the founder of the one man, one god teaching, and corresponds to Biblical Abraham. Under the Koran, Ibrahim, by the will of Allah, was ready to sacrifice one of his sons, Ismail, but Allay relieved him of this.

    Id al-adha is marked on the tenth day of the zu-lhidja (in the Lunar calendar) and coincides with the end of hajj - pilgrimage to the holy places of Islam.

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