08/05/2013, 00.00
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Sufi Imam murdered in Dagestan, the volatile republic of the Russian Caucasus

The third moderate religious leader to fall victim to an attack since the beginning of the year. Series of murders not just motivated by clashes between currents of radical Islam. According to experts, some are exploiting religion for other purposes.

Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - On the night of July 3rd unidentified men opened fire on the car of one of the moderate Muslim religious leaders in Dagestan, killing him. According to investigators, Sufi Imam Ilyas Ilyasov (76 years) was attacked by two men, who then fled. His driver was injured in the attack in Makhachkala. Ilyasov's death is being treated as manslaughter. The Sufi leader was known for its strongly critical positions towards the expansion of the radical current of Islam Salafism in Dagestan and throughout the North Caucasus.

Ilyasov's murder is just the latest in a series of attacks against the moderate religious leaders in this volatile republic in the Russian Caucasus. In July, a rabbi in Derbent was seriously injured in shooting attack. In March, an imam was killed in the village of Gubden. As of January 2012, 11 Muslim clerics have been killed.

Ilyasov had repeatedly denounced the inadequacy of political power, terming it "one of the causes of radicalization of the local population." Gregory Shvedov - a Caucasus expert and director of the agency Caucasian Knot, which monitors these types of attacks - has warned against simplistic readings of the situation. As he explained to the Moscow Times, you can not narrow the cause of this series of murders only to the current clash between moderate and radical Islam, the latter wanting to establish in the Russian Caucasus - Muslim-majority territory - an independent Islamic state, the so-called "caliphate in the Caucasus. "

"The fact, for example, that the targets of this campaign are chosen very carefully - he explained - forces me to be very careful in my analysis: we need to understand if some people are using the religious aspect in Dagestan to achieve their personal ends. "

Investigators working on the case Ilyasov believe that the Imam's activities in the field of religion is only one of the possible motives. Ilyasov had already received threats in 2008, when he worked at a mosque in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan. (N.A.)


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