Chechen authorities speak of a 92% vaccination rate. Activists denounce coercive methods: those who refuse the vaccine risk dismissal. Local doctors propose Islamic medicine. Muslims believe that "through illness Allah purifies from sins". In Tatarstan no-vaxers locked up in asylums.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Chechen Ministry of Health announced yesterday that 92% of the population has received the first dose of the vaccine for Covid-19, and over 40% have already had a booster. For the authorities of Chechnya, a Caucasian republic part of the Russian Federation, "herd immunity has now been achieved". The information is somewhat surprising, given the widespread reluctance to vaccinate throughout Russia and the Caucasus.
Members of the humanitarian association Memorial have in recent days denounced the coercive methods of the Chechen administration, which threatens to have anyone who refuses vaccination fired. According to an investigation by Kavkaz.Realii, the main cause of opposition to treatment against Covid is attributed to the Muslim religion professed by the majority of local inhabitants.
Chechen doctors, after all, have also largely been against vaccines, and have had to submit to the obligations of local authorities. According to Musa X (last name withheld for security reasons), an oncologist practicing in the Chechen capital Groznyj, "Sputnik-V has not passed all the tests, and there are no proven defenses against recent variants of the virus."
Many doctors try to propose Islamic medicine instead of vaccines, referring to the treatments that the Prophet Muhammad himself would have undergone: herbal infusions, blood transfusions, reading of the Koran and more. Dr. Musa is even more perplexed than with official medicine: "I too am religious, I read the Koran and pray, but I have not seen the indication that vaccines are forbidden by Islam anywhere".
The doctor describes Chechnya as "a highly obscurantist region full of artificial and archaic prejudices", where there is no shortage of conspiracy theories about Covid as a population control project. There is a widespread opinion that man dies when his time has come", and no doctor is able to counter this opinion.
Another popular saying in Chechnya is that "our ancestors did not vaccinate themselves and survived, it is better treat ousrselves with the sunna", that is with the religious tradition. According to Musa, Islamic medicine helps only "on a psychosomatic level". In the Soviet times people believed in the directives of the State, but now this trust is not so widespread, especially after the wars that have devastated the country, establishing a more authoritarian regime even than that of Moscow, to which he professes absolute loyalty.
According to another doctor interviewed, Magomed S., besides religious motivations, ignorance is simply widespread, even among medical personnel. The same defects are also found in neighboring regions, such as Ossetia and Ingushetia. Those who refer to Islam refuse to vaccinate children because "the little ones are under the protection of Allah", to whose will everyone must submit anyway. Still it is said that "through illness Allah purifies from sins, so if you get sick it is an act of mercy.
An Arabic teacher in Groznyj, Madina E., states that she does not have enough knowledge to evaluate the matter fully, "however, man cannot avoid what Allah disposes, and he does not suffer from anything that has not been prescribed to him". The greatest precaution that can be drawn from the Koran, according to Medina, are the words of Muhammad when he orders not to move away from areas infested by leprosy, in order not to infect people living elsewhere; on the other hand "Islam states that one should not do what causes damage to oneself, and we have seen many cases in which the vaccine causes damage to people".
In another Islamic region of Russia, the republic of Tatarstan, authorities are beginning to lock up no-vaxers in asylums. The local government has introduced mandatory QR-Code (Green Pass) for all workers.