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  • » 08/18/2010, 00.00


    Chechnya: door-to-door sermons for restaurant owners who do not close for Ramadan

    Nina Achmatova

    Muslim religious authorities set up a special commission to visit cafés and eateries to lecture on the importance of respecting Islamic principles, and close down during the day on Ramadan. Experts and observers discuss the initiative; some groups with special needs are not required to fast.

    Moscow (AsiaNews) – Cafés and eateries that are staying open during the day in Chechnya are poised for a visit by a special commission set up to raise awareness about Ramadan. According to Muslim authorities, door-to-door sermons will remind people of the need to adhere strictly to the precepts of fasting and abstinence, this according to Chechen Mufti Sultan Mirzayev, who is concerned that some people in the predominantly Muslim autonomous republic do not observe one of the fundamental principles of Islam.

    The cleric did acknowledge though that owners of dining places usually apologise to the members of the visiting special awareness commission for being open, thanking them for their trouble. Some have even shut down their establishments in the daytime.

    Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar and is marked by dawn to dusk fasting. Compelling restaurants and other such places to close has led to a public debate across Russia.

    According to the deputy chairman of Russia’s Mufti Council (Muftiyat), Imam Ildar Aljautdinov, what is happening in Chechnya cannot be applied to other Russian regions with a Muslim population.

    In his opinion, each region is unique, and local religious leaders must accordingly decide what is best in regards to their community. For example, in Tatarstan or in the northern Caucasus, it would be unfair to propose such an initiative since most people are not religiously observant, the imam said.

    Closing down all eateries during the day would also not take into consideration that some groups are exempt, namely pregnant and breast-feeding women, children and the sick.

    “Even in countries like Saudi Arabia, some restaurants are open for non-Muslim,” Igor Bucharov, president of the Restaurant Owners Federation, told Echo of Moscow radio.

    In Chechnya, the local population is also not very happy. “Observance of all religious prescriptions is certainly a duty of every Muslim,” Saikhan T., a local resident, is quoted as saying in Caucasian Knot (Кавказский Узел), a local website.

    “I think however every person should have the right to choose. Based on his actions, God will judge him. The authorities instead should not act as the defenders of religion,” he added.

    More broadly, door-to-door sermons are part of a strategy pursued by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured) to impose his version of “Chechnya’s traditional Islam”.

    This includes firing imams who are not loyal to his regime as well as sending black-clad men from the president’s Centre for Moral and Spiritual Education into the streets to remind people of the evil of alcohol, spread the word about the right Islam, and verbally and physically attack women who do not cover their heads.

    Recently, Kadyrov has proposed changes to the title of the chief executives of Russia’s federated entities (republics, krais and oblasts), with that of ‘Father of the Nation’ or even better, ‘Imam’, for himself. The title of President would instead be reserved for the head of the Russian Federation.

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    See also

    13/01/2005 RUSSIA – CHECHNYA
    Islam in school curriculum to fight terrorism

    21/10/2009 RUSSIA – CHECHNYA – EU
    Chechen “culture centres” in Europe, a mask for fundamentalism and dictatorship
    Summary executions of Chechen human rights activists or opponents to the Kadyrov regime push Chechen refugees to warn European governments. Chechen president praises Sharia, requires women wear the veil and limits the sale of alcoholic beverages.

    07/09/2017 11:54:00 RUSSIA
    On Rohingya, Kadyrov draws battle lines against Putin

    The Chechen president counters Russian positions on the Islamic minority in Myanmar. Muslims protest in Moscow, while there is a law on unauthorized demonstrations. One million Muslims in Grozny.

    09/10/2006 RUSSIA
    The trail of Anna Politkovskaja's murder leads to pro-Putin Chechens
    The slain journalist had clear evidence that pro-Moscow Chechen leaders were involved in criminal acts. A saddened world wants the affair investigated whilst the Kremlin is silent.  

    17/05/2010 UKRAINE – RUSSIA
    Medvedev’s visit in Kyiv casts a Russian (and Chechen) shadow over the Ukraine
    Russia’s president makes his first official visit to Ukraine for the inauguration of the new pro-Russian Yanukovich administration. Ukraine’s opposition parties slam the presence of Chechen President Kadyrov in the Russian delegation. The visit marks new bilateral relations, with talks on energy taking centre stage.

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