Feature

Russia: Mysterious killing in Tatarstan

Has Islamic extremism come to Tatarstan?

Ildar Abuzyarov and Sergei MelnikovOgonyok

Has Islamic extremism come to Tatarstan? asked Ildar Abuzyarov and Sergei Melnikov. Unlike other mostly Muslim provinces in Russia’s south, such as war-blighted Chechnya or restive Dagestan, Tatarstan has long been peaceful. That changed last month, when the mufti of Tatarstan, the region’s Islamic leader, was attacked with a car bomb and his deputy shot dead. The capital, Kazan, is now “overflowing with rumors.” Some see a financial motive, while others suspect the nefarious hand of the U.S., in line with Hillary Clinton’s warning that Russia would pay for blocking action in Syria. But most Tatars blame the Saudis. The mufti and his deputy were leaders in the ideological battle against Wahhabism and Salafism, extremist versions of Islam spread by Saudi money. Even Tatar President Rustam Minnikhanov seems to harbor such suspicions, saying that “traditional Islam would never allow” the murder of a cleric. A crackdown on Wahhabis, though, would be a mistake. “Radical Islam is still very weak in the region, but if the wrong sorts of measures are taken, it will start to grow exponentially,” as it has in Dagestan. Outright “repression will only aggravate the situation.”

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