Staunton, May 23 – The Ingush republic authorities, the Muslim leadership, and Russian media have all urged Ingush to self-isolate and wear masks in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but the teips, the extended family groups that form the building blocks of Ingush life, have played if anything an even greater role.
Although seldom recognized as the building blocks of civil society – for an exception to that pattern, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/05/teips-support-rather-than-restrict-rise.html – the teips in Ingushetia are playing exactly the kind of role most analytic paradigms suggest is the task of NGOs rather than primordial groups.
That role has become ever more visible as Ingushetia, an overwhelmingly Muslim republic, approaches the end of Ramadan today and the traditional day of celebration tomorrow. The council of elders of the Leyma teip, one of the large such extended groups which includes more than 20 families have appealed to all Ingush to refrain from large celebrations.
In a press release, the council of elders says that this year in contrast to the past “not only in our republic but throughout the country there is a difficult situation as a result of the coronavirus infections. Therefore, we appeal to our fellow believers to mark the Uraza-Bayram holiday at home with their immediate families” (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/349976/).
In response to that appeal, Ingush have been putting up signs over the streets and in front of dozens of apartment blocks and individual houses committing themselves as neighborhoods or individuals to maintain the quarantine over the holiday and “not to receive guests” as they would normally do.
Putting up these signs was the work of the two Mutsolgov brothers whose family are part of the Leyma teip. One of them, Magomed Mutsolgov, is the head of the MASR human rights defense group and a prominent blogger. He says that the people of Ingushetia need to follow the advice of the teip elders to keep themselves and others safe.
Another Ingush activist, lawyer Dzhabrail Kuriyev, whose family is also part of the Leyma teip, reinforces that message. His activities like those of the Mutsolgovs are evidence that the teips provide a key foundation for the activities of more traditional civil society organizations in Ingushetia.
That Ingushetia faces a serious challenge from the pandemic is underscored by the increasing number of infections and deaths. Over the last 24 hours, the number of infections has risen to 1734 and the number of deaths to 40 (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/349986/).