News / Europe

    Is Russia Radicalizing its Muslims?

    Gulnara Faizulina, wife of imprisoned Tatar Muslim, Moscow, 24 May 2010
    Gulnara Faizulina, wife of imprisoned Tatar Muslim, Moscow, 24 May 2010

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Peter Fedynsky

    The Russian Supreme Court on Tuesday hears an appeal of 12 Muslims from the republic of Tatarstan imprisoned on charges of attempting to overthrow the local government.  Russian human rights activists say the case represents an assault on freedom of religion that has the unintended effect of radicalizing Muslims in the Russian Federation.  

    Farkhat Faizulin is one of 12 Muslims in Tatarstan imprisoned for attempting a violent overthrow of the republic's government.  He was also accused of membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organization that seeks to unite all Muslim countries.  

    Prosecutors presented no evidence of guns or explosives at the defendants' 2007 trial.  Instead, they pointed to confiscated Islamic literature, including that of Hizb ut-Tahrir.  Human-rights activists say prosecutors extrapolated violent intent from possession of that organization's literature.  The defendants deny all charges.  

    Faizulin's wife, Gulnara Faizulina, told VOA the Supreme Court appeal revolves around procedural matters.

    Faizulina says defendants were denied a jury trial and defense motions, witnesses were kept secret and defendants could not properly cross-examine them.

    Speaking at a Moscow news conference, the director of Russia's Human Rights Institute, Valentin Gefter, said the issue at stake in the appeal is not the state's war against terrorism, but rather against independent ideas.

    Gefter says the struggle in Russia in this specific instance and in the Caucasus is not against ideas or people who may even have radical ideas - certainly not violent ones, but rather it is a struggle against all those who may presumably think differently from local and federal authorities.

    Alexei Malashenko, Islamic expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center, says there is no understanding or consistency in Russia as to what constitutes radical Islam.  He notes that theological disputes that are common to all religions.  He also cites cases when Russian civil authorities get involved in matters of faith.

    Malashenko says one needs to think for a second that a judge - a civil authority - can provide instruction about proper or improper religious ritual.  Malashenko calls that nonsense, adding that a small-town mayor on the eve of some tragic events in [the Caucasus republic of] Kabardino-Balkaria posted a schedule when people may or may not attend services in a mosque.

    Elena Ryabinina of the Human Rights Institute says the state's anti-terrorism operations are creating a large number of innocent victims who are convinced they cannot defend themselves through legal means.

    Ryabinina says the more groups fall under the steamroller of repression, the greater the critical mass that emerges.  She says although the groups are completely different, they are united by two very powerful factors - a common faith and common trouble stemming from the repressive campaign.

    Valentin Gefter says civil interference in matters of religion is turning Islam into a hero among ordinary people.  He notes a ruthless campaign against Islamic extremism in Chechnya has been accompanied by orders of what female college students should wear in class.  Gefter says that encourages resentment.

    Gefter adds that Russian security agencies last year pressured the Russian parliament and President Dmitri Medvedev into eliminating the country's budding jury system in terrorism cases.

    The human-rights activist says this has offered the possibility of not only manipulating, pressuring and perpetrating all kinds of outrages during an investigation, but also to get courts to deliver verdicts desired [by authorities].

    Alexei Malashenko says there are no exact numbers on how many people are being radicalized by state's war on terror.  As he puts it, there are as many Islamic extremists as the authorities need to have at any given time - sometimes they need a lot, sometimes only a few.  He notes that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has said there are no more than 500 rebels remaining in his republic.  He later told his security forces virtually every Chechen family has a rebel, which would put the number in the many thousands.  

    Gulnara Faizulina says she does not expect the Russian Supreme Court to rule favorably in her husband's case.  A decision should take about three weeks.  He has already served three-and-one-half years of a four-and-one-half year term.  He could have served a maximum of 20.  She notes all of the defendants got less than the minimum 10-year sentence, which she sees as indirect acknowledgment by authorities that they could not prove their case.

    If necessary, the defendants plan a further appeal at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.