07/19/2012, 00.00

Twin attacks on Muslim authorities in Kazan

Nina Achmatova
Mufti of Tatarstan wounded in car bomb, moments after the murder of his deputy. Experts: attempts to export Caucusus model to Muslim majority republic, model of coexistence.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - An emergency meeting is underway at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian autonomous republic of Tatarstan, after todays twin attacks on two of the top regional Islamic authorities. In Kazan, the capital of the Muslim majority republic on the Volga, a car bombing targeted the mufti of Tatarsta, Ildus Faizov, the regional authority on Islam. According to Rbc agency sources citing local security personnel, the cleric has been taken to hospital in a serious condition. Just one hour earlier, Faizov deputy's, Waliullah Yakupov, head of the spiritual administration of the republic was shot dead outside his home.

The double attack has shocked the city, always considered a model of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among different religions and 70 ethnic groups, particularly between Islam and Orthodox.

The Council of Muftis of Russia has condemned the attacks as particularly serious "terrorist acts" because they occur on the eve of Ramadan, the holy month for Islam. A spokesman for the Russian federal prosecutors, Vladimir Markin, said that according to a 'track' being followed by investigators, the two incidents are linked and have to do with the activity of the spiritual leaders. Both are known as moderate leaders in the fight against the spread of Wahhabism in Tatarstan, which they considered "a threat to traditional Islam."

According to some, such as the director of the Kazan Center for Regional Ethnic Studies, Suleimanov Rais, "a Caucasian drift has arrived in Tatarstan, where moderate muftis, who denounce the growing presence of Wahhabi like the preachers from the North Caucasus, are targeted ". The expert also points the finger against local authorities which he said "have long been flirting with extremists by turning a blind eye to their activities."

For Geidar Djemal, head of the Islamic committee in Russia, "the problem is not extremists, but the powerful movements within the Tatar clergy itself, linked with groups from the security forces who want to shift Moscow's focus from the Caucasus to Tatarstan, hoping in awards in their management of terrorism. "


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