Monday, July 22, 2019

New Ingush Mufti Also on Side of the People, Activists Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – Even though Isa Khamkhoyev decided not to run for re-election as Ingush mufti to allow for the development of improved relations with the republic’s new head, he will continue to work in the muftiate and his successor Abdurakhman Martazanov, the former kady, is also on the side of the people, Ingush activists say.

            Khamkhoyev who remains an influential figure among the Ingush population will continue to work in the muftiate because that is what the alims want, Magomed Khastyrov, one of his assistants and the deputy head of the Spiritual Center of Muslims of Ingushetia, says (

            The former mufti remains “a member of the Council of Alims, the executive organ of the Spiritual Center and he will work there. At the same time, he has said that he will support the new mufti and his activities,” Khastyrov continued. 

            Although Khamkhoyev and the new mufti are members of the same teip, Magomed Mutsolgov, head of the Mashr Ingush Human Rights Organization, says, it would be a mistake to view Martazanov simply as Khamkhoyev’s man. “He is a completely independent figure and during the protests he was with the people.”

            Mutsolgov said he was pleased that Khamkhoyev remained in office longer than former republic head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov as that represented a victory for the Muslim leader whom Yevkurov had tried to remove and for the Ingush people who follow Khamkhoyev but not Yevkurov.

            Khamkhoyev behaved in “a very worthy manner” during the protests, Mutsolgov says, and “he oof course will remain a spiritual leader since he has been involved in religious affairs for a long time.” One should also remember that Ingush Islam is far from united: “not all have ever recognized the primacy of the muftiate.”

            Khamkhoyev also has political and administrative experience to draw on, the rights activist says. “He has a circle of acquaintances who respect him” and that will give him real influence regardless of his title.

            Timur Akiyev, the head of the Memorial office in Ingushetia, observes that the election of the new mufti took place without the interference of the political authorities old or new.  The new republic head is focused exclusively on economic problems and hasn’t gotten involved with social or religious organizations.

            Like Mutsolgov, Akiyev emphasizes that “the Muslim community in Ingushetia is diverse and therefore there is no single leader of opinion in the local umma. For some Muslims, Khamkhoyev was and remains a leader, but for others, including both Salafis and traditionalists who backed Yevkurov, he doesn’t.

            Aleksey Malashenko, a Moscow specialist on the Caucasus, says that Khamkhoyev behaved with dignity in departing from his post in order to wipe the slate clean in relations between the Muslim establishment and the new republic head.  The former mufti “did not want to be a source of conflict.” 

            But having ceased to be mufti, Malashenko continues, Khamkhoyev nonetheless remains “an influential figure. It is entirely likely that he will express his views as a private person who enjoys spiritual authority and will thereby remain one of the leaders of the Muslim community” in the republic.

            Meanwhile and regardless of whether new republic head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov is behind it, the siloviki have arrested another opposition leader, the third such action since the departure of Yevkurov ( and

            And in another sign that the political authorities are showing no sign of backing away from their current hard line, the interior ministry’s Center for Countering Extremism has called in for questioning Ingush activists who had applied for a permit to hold another protest demonstration (

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