Sunday, October 23, 2022

FSB Now Controls Every Mufti and Imam in Russia, One Imam who Fled West Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 17 – Until recently, muftis and imams in Russia were able to balance between two stools, loyalty to their faith and loyalty to the Russian state, one of their number who fled to Germany says and speaks only on condition of anonymity. But now that is no longer possible because “there are people in the FSB who control every mufti and imam.”

            The émigré imam, who comes from Tatarstan, says “the only way out of this situation is to leave the country” as he did. But he adds that most of the muftis and imams have no plans to do so and so will do whatever the FSB officers tell them to do ( in tatar; in Russian).

            His departure appears to have been triggered by Putin’s war in Ukraine and the support many muftis and imams in Russia have given to it. “This is not a war to protect your country. Why should Muslims take part in it? … We should not call for war, we should try to stop the bloodshed. Openly calling for war contradicts both shariat and the Russian Constitution.”

            The émigré imam says he is also concerned about the war’s impact on his Tatar nation. “There are so few Tatars, their birthrate is low and so many died from the coronavirus. With so many men killed through mobilization, the birthrate will fall still further. It is now being said that in 100 years, there won’t be any more Tatars – and this is leading to that.”

            Another émigré imam, also speaking on condition of anonymity, says that he “doesn’t see anything surprising in the fact that Russia is mobilizing Muslims for war with Ukraine.” It was always that way, he says. “The muftiates have always supported Putin; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be allowed to operate.”

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