Islamism, the US and “Wahhabi lobby” in Russia

Por • 5 ago, 2011 • Sección: Internacionales


The roundtable conference “North Caucasus: external challenges and threats”, organized by the Black Sea and Caspian Sea center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (Moscow) has been held in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

One of the main issues on the agenda there was political Islam (Islamism), which poses one of the most serious threats to the public order and political system of Russia. Speaking at the conference Yana Amelina, the head of the Caucasus sector in the Kazan center of regional and ethno religious studies, stressed that it is Islamism, which has been the driving force of militants group in North Caucasus for at least five-seven years, and in 2010 jihad began to spread over the Volga region in the Russian republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.

According to Rinat Pateyev, a researcher of the modern Islam and an assistant professor at the South Federal University, there are people in the Mufti Council of Russia (an official organization which at least verbally consists of the followers of traditional Islam), who regularly voice thoughts which contradict the interests of Russia. At the same time the ideas planted by radicals about the division of the world into the world of Islam and the world of Kufr (disbelief) cut North Caucasus mentally from the rest of Russia and this may be followed by cultural and political rejection of this region.

Pateyev has urged the Russian Muslims to stick to their traditional spiritual heritage, in particular of Tartar Jadidism instead of following the recipes of Saudi and other Arab missionaries, who are spreading the experience of other ethic, confessional, social political communities.

Sharing the concerns of Pateyev, Yana Amelina also said that “Wahhabi lobby” on regional and federal levels hampers efficient confrontation to Islamists’ ideas in Russia.This lobby promotes the interests of international Islamists’ circles in general and militants’ groups, in particular.

“They spread the guilt complex among Russians regarding the armed Islamists explaining that the society pushed them to do this because it did not provide extremists proper conditions to express themselves as Muslims. They also convince Russians that Islamism in its extreme forms which contradict the Constitution and other Russian laws, is bound to win anyway and its victory is only a matter of time”, the expert from Kazan noted.

“As a rule, it is done in a discreet form, which makes it difficult to detect a lobbyist and to fight him. Such sentiments have created the atmosphere of apathy and despair in North Caucasus, brought the idea that it was impossible to stand against the Islamic influence and after all the idea that supporters of a secular model of state will have to surrender.

On the federal level “Wahhabi lobby” pursues the same goals, creating a paralyzing fear among the Russian men in the street when they hear words “Islamism” and “Caucasus”.

“Wahhabi lobby” in Russia (to be exact, it should be called Islamists’ lobby) began to take shape several years ago. By now it is a well-controlled machine of media and experts. There are pro-Islamic experts including essayist Ruslan Kurbanov, who isespecially active, who are trying if not completely to justify the executors of terrorist attacks but at least to find mitigating circumstances for them.

Ruslan Kurbanov and his associates including the Co-chairman of the Russian Congress of Caucasian people, Vice President of the Academy of Geopolitical problems Denga Khalidov, head of the working group of the Public Chamber of Russia on the development of public dialogue and civil society institutions on Caucasus Maxim Shevtchenko and a number of other public activists and journalists, constantly urging “dialogue” with Wahhabis and their participation in state and public institutions. They discuss prospects of the introduction of Shari’ah legal proceedings in Russia and other actions which in fact liquidate the secular character of the Russian state set by the Constitution.

In fact, we are dealing with planting of fundamentalists’ ideas in the Russian social and political circles, with an attempt to present Islamism as a religious movement, which is slightly exotic but has equal rights with other movements.

Also a large number of Russian journalists and experts, who are better informed about the events in Caucasus that men in the street, is simply gripped by the “Stockholm syndrome” towards Islamists – they cannot imagine our life with a dialogue with Wahhabis.

“We must create the atmosphere of intolerance around Islamists and Wahhabi lobby otherwise they will win”, Yana Amelina concluded.

Characterizing the Islamic factor in North Caucasus, Igor Dobayev, an expert in Islam, said that practically any type of terrorism, except Islamic one has ceased to exist in the world. “The US is actively supporting Islamist movement in Caucasus through different funds, NGO etc. The confessional (Islamic) factor has come to the foreground alongside with social economic and political factors”, – Dobayev said. It is necessary to fight terrorism on several fronts at the same time. It implies stronger anti terrorist measures, reduction of terrorism’s financial resources and propaganda, which is the most difficult form of fight.

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