Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Harsh New Moves against Muslims in Ingushetia Recall Stalin-Era Repression, Khashtyrov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 30 – The repressions the Ingush authorities have started against Muslim leaders, including the closing of the muftiate and the persecution of leaders of the Council of Teips, resemble “the repressions of the 1930s in the USSR,” Mukhabek Khashtyrov says.

            These new actions, the Ingush commentator says, are intended to create “administrative chaos” within the Ingush nation and thus allow the two neighboring republics favored by Moscow, Chechnya and Ingushetia, to absorb Ingushetia territorially and then eliminate the Ingush nation as such (преследование-властью-религиозных-и/#more-613).

            The current rulers will not success any more than Stalin did in forcing the Ingush to their knees. Instead, all these repressive actions will backfire and the Ingush nation will become even more united and become ever more committed to the defense of their republic’s territorial integrity because they know that “a nation without land will soon cease to be a nation.”

            Ilez Aushev, the naib of the Salafi mosque in the Ingush village of Surkhakhi, agrees that what the powers that be have been doing is counter-productive. In an interview with Lidiya Mikhalchenko of Radio Liberty, he provides additional perspective on the relations between the authorities and Muslims and especially those called Salafis (

            “Our mosque is called a Salafi one,” Aushev says. But “it is registered in the muftiate of the republic [despite the fact that] its point of view differs from that. Today it is acceptable to classify mosques and believers, with some being part of the muftiate, others Salafi, a third, tariqat, and still others Sufi. But such classification isn’t supported in Islam.”

            Despite what some say, the naib continues, Salafism is not new in the North Caucasus. “I was always here.” Moreover, its adepts have good relations with others. “Salafis and Sufis intermarry. The clashes between us are strongly exaggerated. Whoever wants to can dance the lezginka” and so on. “No one prohibits that.”

            Aushev says that he fully supported the protesters against Yevkurov’s land deal with Chechnya. He adds that he knew he was at risk of arrest and even hid out on occasion, but he wasn’t among the leaders and so far has escaped persecution of that kind, although the siloviki have routinely followed him.

            “If the special services and bureaucrats think that they are supporting calm in the region, they are mistaken. In fact, it is we, religious people and social authorities, who do not allow young people to take a radical path. We keep them from making mistakes” of that kind. Now many of those authorities are behind bars and cannot act to restrain the young.

            Asked whether there is freedom of religion in Ingushetia, the naib says that “formally, there is. But colossal pressure is being exerted on believers both by the special services and the bureaucrats. They do not allow for normal preaching. And Salafi imams aren’t allowed to appear on radio or television.”

            Moreover, this pressure means that, “people do not come to the mosque in large numbers at one particular time” lest they be accused of organizing an anti-government demonstration. Instead, “they come and pray” and then leave without hearing sermons or sharing in the work of the community.

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