Staunton, August 9 – Russia’s Muslims suffered all the ills that other Russians have during the 20 years of Vladimir Putin’s rule as the Kremlin leader has moved from “hard authoritarianism” to “soft totalitarianism,” Ikramkutkin Khan says. But they have suffered many additional ones because Putin has built his power by attacking them.
Putin rose to power by unleashing a war against Chechnya with the apartment bombings in 1999, winning support from Russians as the man who kept the Russian Federation from falling apart by fighting “Islamist terrorism.” And he received “carte blanche” from Russians and others after the September 11 attacks on the US (golosislama.com/news.php?id=36996).
From the beginning of his rule and even during the “fat” times of high oil prices, Putin began “to prohibit Islamic organizations which up to now freely operate in the majority of Western countries, began a paranoidal witch hunt for Saudis, Qataris, and Turks and closed foundations, educational institutions and publishers with international ties.”
Indeed, over the last 20 years, the Kremlin leader has conducted what cn only be ““a real cover war against the Islamic sector of civil society” not only when he was treating the rest of Russia relatively well but especially when he was cracking down as he has been most of the time.
(The Russian Muslim commentator points to an article on the Golos Islam site (golosislama.com/news.php?id=31080)which documents Putin’s crackdown against Muslims almost year by year after the last 20, a crackdown that all too often goes unnoticed against the general trends in Russian life.)
For Russia’s Muslims, the 1990s which many Russians now view with particular distaste thanks to Putin’s propaganda were a much better time, “when in the country like mushrooms after a rain, Islamic organizations and foundations grew, when Muslims freely travelled abroad to study and their co-religionists came to Russia.” They even had representatives in the Duma.
And for them, Khan continues, the 1990s were a time “when republics had significant authority, elected their own presidents, had a flourishing social, national and religious life, and their representatives like Aushev, Shaymiyev and others defended their interests in Russian politics.”
Putin took all this away from the Muslims of Russia just as he deprived all Rusisans of “many of their freedoms which had they had gained after the fall of the totalitarian regime,” the commentator continues.
But Putin’s attack on Islam has not been limited by the borders of the Russian Federation, Khan says. He has supported Asad’s anti-Muslim regime in Syria, he has seized Crimes, “whose indigenous Muslim population has been transformed into a pariah on its own land,” and he has supported “anti-Islamic forces and attitudes in many countries with Muslim minorities.”
Things would have been very different for both Russians as a whole and Muslims in particular if someone other than Putin had been in power in Moscow. But he and his entourage “wanted to keep power at any price and therefore chose” not to defend the interests of Russia’s citizens and peoples but to engage in “war and terror.”
As a result, the Russian Muslim commentator says, Putin does have the chance “to remain in power to the end of his days,” just as other dictators like Ceaucescu and Qaddafi did but he won’t be able to pass on his system to someone else any more than either of those notorious figures did.