08/22/2009, 00.00

Russian Islamic University opens in Grozny, with Putin’s blessing

At the inauguration, Chechen President Kadyrov announces a future for the nation free of the influence of Wahhabi Islam and extremism. The university will offer cultural courses and Muslim doctrine along with Russian, Chechen and English as well as sociology, political science and philosophy.

Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The Russian Islamic University, inaugurated in Grozny, on August 21 is called Kunta-Haji, in honor the Sufi mystic who in the mid nineteenth century preached non-violence in Chechnya.

The ceremony was opened by a video message in which Vladimir Putin, the Russian premier said: "There are three million Muslims in our country and they all consider Russia as their home, their mother country and we welcome the recovery Islamic traditions". The words of the Prime Minister in Moscow echoed those of Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's president, who announced a future for the country without the influence of Wahhabi Islam and extremism.

The University of Grozny was founded on Kadyrov’s direct initiative through the Chechen Spiritual Governance for Muslims. Centres of Islamic culture also involved in the implementation of the courses include the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, and Abu-Nour in Damascus. Along with courses in Muslim culture and doctrine students also study subjects taught in public universities in the country: Russian, Chechen and English as well as sociology, political science and philosophy.   The Kunta-Haji is not the first Islamic university founded with the blessing of the Kremlin. Already in 2000 an Islamic University of Russia opened its doors in Tatarstan under the direct control of the Russian Ministry for Education. Now just as then, says Ravil Gainutdin, president of the Russian Council of muftis, the University of Kazan was born “to protect the country from foreign extremist teachings”.

The Kunta-Haji aims to promote traditional Muslim culture of Chechnya against external influences in a country where Islamic extremism has always played a decisive role in the twenty-year conflict between the separatists in Grozny and the Kremlin.

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