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Russia arrests five suspects for attacking top Islamic Mufti

Published: 23/07/2012 03:36:00 AM GMT
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Moscow: Five suspects have been detained by the Russian authorities in connection with attacking the car of a top Islamic official in the Muslim-majority Tatarstan region.

By Farhan Iqbal

Moscow: Five suspects have been detained by the Russian authorities in connection with attacking the car of a top Islamic official in the Muslim-majority Tatarstan region.

According to the Russian authorities, they have arrested five suspects who may have been involved in an attempt to murder a top Islamic official. However, the official survived with wounds but his deputy lost his life in a separate fatal attack.

The attack on the Islamic official of the Muslim-majority region in Russia has raised fears that the country may face spread of militancy.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and top security officials during weekly meeting ordered the country’s Security Council to toughen measures against extremism after the attacks in an area which is considered as a model of religious tolerance in Russia.

The state-run news agency, RIA, quoted Presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, as saying, “Participants underscored the need to step up opposition to all forms of extremism, including religious.”

The federal Investigative Committee hinted that the attacks were provoked by disputes over faith and money.

Tatarstan's mufti, Ildis Faizov, was rushed to hospital after three powerful blasts hit his car in Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, later this week. In a separate incident, his deputy mufti, Valiulla Yakupov, had been shot dead outside his home a little earlier than the blasts.

Oil-producing Tatarstan, which has a higher degree of autonomy from Moscow than most regions and has a majority ethnic Tatar population, is relatively peaceful. Its historic capital Kazan, on the Volga River, has been chosen as the host city for the World University Games next year.

A statement was issued by the investigators of the incident in which they said, “Investigators believe the main motive was the professional activity of the victims, including their ideological differences with opponents.”

“Faizov had taken a tough position toward organizations that preach radical forms of Islam,” they added.

They continued, “In addition, he took control of the movement of financial resources of the organization Ideal-Hadzh, which sent Muslims to Makkah, and on this basis a conflict occurred between the mufti and the leader of this organization, which threatened him.”

Investigators informed that the Chairman of Ideal-Hadzh, Rustem Gataullin, 57, is among those detained, along with the leader of a Muslim place of worship, Murat Galleyev, an Uzbek citizen and two other residents of Tatarstan.

Russian President Putin has always emphasized on the need for religious tolerance and unity in a mainly Orthodox Christian country with a large Muslim minority. He promised after the incident that the culprits would be found and punished.

“It is a serious signal,” Putin said.

Tatarstan President, Rustam Minnikhanov, vowed to wipe out extremism in the region.

He said, “I promise that the toughest measures will be taken.”

“Tatarstan has always preached traditional Islam and will continue to do so in the future,” he added.

An expert on Islam with the Russian Academy of Sciences, Akhmet Yarlikapov, commented, “You can't isolate the Caucasus and say everything bad happens there and nowhere else. This is a single country with common problems.”

Russian investigators work near the scene of a car bomb blast in the city of Kazan