Tuesday 2 March
WAHHABISM IN DAGESTAN AND CHECHNYA

by Mikhail Roshchin, Keston News Service

The community of radical Muslims or supporters of 'pure Islam' (the
so-called Wahhabites) of Dagestan, with Bagauddin Kebedov as their
capable and active leader, is an interesting and alarming phenomenon
within the rapid Islamic revival in the northern Caucasus. It arose at
the end of the 1980s. Today supporters of radical Islam amount to
approximately 6-7 per cent of the population of Dagestan. Radical
Muslims are trying to revive Islam according to the Koran and the
traditions of the prophet Mohammed and thus free it from the
prejudices and extraneous features which have built up over the course
of history in traditional Islam. During my visits to Dagestan I have
been fortunate to meet the head or amir, as he is called, of the
community of Wahhabites, or jamaat (as the supporters of 'pure Islam'
call their community) as well as certain other leaders of the
community. Wahhabites call themselves simply Muslims, and their
community 'the Muslim jamaat'. Bagauddin Kebedov, the 'amir of the
jamaat', explained that his supporters believe the postcommunist
government of Dagestan to be in a state of 'shirk' (paganism).
Bagauddin considers the medieval Arab lawyer Ibn Teimiya to be one of
the main authorities in interpretation of sharia law. The amir of the
Wahhabites believes Islam to be an entire system for human life. In
the early 1990s he was one of the initiators in the foundation of the
Islamic Renaissance Party in Dagestan, but now Bagauddin believes that
it is more important to form a community (jamaat). The registration of
mosques and Wahhabite communities, in his view, is not of major
significance: 'We are already registered with Allah', Bagauddin says,
'we do not want to take power into our own hands, we want all power to
be in Allah's hands. For us geographical and state boundaries are of
no significance, we work and act wherever we can. Today Dagestan is
run from Moscow, we do not have an Islamic society like that in
Chechnya. We would like, for example, a complete ban on the sale of
alcohol, but for us faith (iman) and one God (taukhid) are more
important. In an Islamic state we would like to introduce the service
of the mukhtasib (the policing of morals). We see the habit of
smoking, and drug taking, as things which are forbidden.

I asked Bagauddin what he thought about the possible independence of
Dagestan. He answered that he was a supporter of an Islamic state, and
for him that was the main thing. A state of kufr (unbelief) was for
him unacceptable, whether within the Russian Federation or an
independent Dagestan.

I spent the night in Kizilyurt with the main publisher of the
Wahhabites, Najmuddin. He has published a whole library of radical
Islamic thinkers in Russian: Seiid Kutb, Abu Alya al-Maududi, Khasan
al-Bann and many others. He has also published 'The Book of the One
God' (Kitab at-Taukhid) by Mohammed Ibn Abdal-Vakhkhab. He is
currently constructing a website on radical Muslims of Dagestan and
the northern Caucasus on the Internet.

Until 1990 Najmuddin was a maths teacher in a secondary school. He
spent most of his life in Pervomaisky village 500m from the Chechen
border, where a significant battle took place between the Chechen
troops of Salman Raduyev and federal forces. His parents still live
there. The inhabitants of the village are ethnic Khvarshiny (a small
mountain people from the Tsumadin region of Dagestan, which borders on
Georgia and Chechnya). The inhabitants of Pervomaiskoye are emigrants
from the settlement of Santlad. In 1946 they were resettled in the
Vedensk region in place of deported Chechens, and after their return
they were sent to Pervomaiskoye. Amir Bagauddin of the jamaat and
several other Wahhabite leaders are emigres either from Santlad or
from Pervomaiskoye.

The central mosque of the jamaat of radical Muslims is situated in
Kizilyurt, a town not far from Makhachkala. The supporters of the
jamaat are active, for example, in Avar villages like Kirovo-aul
(Kizilyurt raion) and Bukhty (the head of the village administration
of Wahhabites lives in this settlement of the Gunib raion).
Bagauddin's supporters publish the newspaper 'Khalif', which first
started in Dagestan but is now published in Chechnya.

The military wing of the Wahhabites, although linked with Bagauddin's
jamaat, is evidently largely orientated towards Khattab, the Jordanian
commanding officer of Islamic troops in Chechnya. Armed Wahhabites led
by Brigadier General Jarull Rajbaddinov from the settlement of
Kharamakhi completely control the little 'Wahhabite republic' situated
in the Buinak raion and consisting of three Dargin villages:
Karamakhi, Chabanmakhi and Kadar. Khattab=92s second wife is from the
village of Karamakhi. Moreover, 16 Arab warriors of their detachment
also took Karamakhin girls as wives. Khattab's unit maintains the
closest links with the 'Wahhabite republic'.

Following discussions between Russian minister of internal affairs
Sergei Stepashin and the Wahhabites of the villages of Karamakhi and
Chabanmakhi on 20 August 1998 the situation surrounding the Wahhabite
republic became less tense. But for how long? It is difficult to say.
The strong political support of a string of Chechen leaders stands
behind the military wing of the Wahhabites: Shamil Basayev and Salman
Raduyev, as well as Movladi Udugov and Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who hold
fundamentalist views.

Interestingly, the current Chechen minister of education, former
village teacher Abdulvakhkhab Zusainov, is a supporter of radical
Islam.

There is also a more fanatical wing of radical Muslims lead by a
Dagestani, Aiyub, who lives in Astrakhan. His supporters can also be
found in Dagestan, especially in the villages of Kvanada (Tsumadin
raion) and Beli (Derbent raion).

In Stavropol Wahhabism is primarily represented by local Nogais.

In Moscow there is a mosque in Tatarsky Pereulok where radical Muslims
meet. (END)




Tuesday 2 March
ST PETERSBURG POLICE BESIEGE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

by Xenia Dennen, Keston News Service

As of mid-evening local time on 1 March, the 'Open Christianity'
school and inter-denominational centre in St Petersburg was
surrounded by a heavy police presence, with police vehicles at each
entrance and three policemen at every corner of the building. RIMMA
SEVASTYANOVA, the school's secretary, told Keston in a telephone
interview that the 27 children and 13 adults in the building would
not soon be starved out, as parents had managed to throw in stocks of
food through a ground-floor window. But the defenders of the 'Open
Christianity' complex, which the St Petersburg authorities have been
trying to evict from its building in the heart of the city, are
disturbed by the news that a list of the school's pupils, including
their home telephone numbers, has fallen into the hands of the
police. A press-release issued by the school states 'Most likely
(indeed we are sure of this) they [the police] will now start to ring
parents at home and to put all sorts of pressure on them.'

The longstanding conflict between 'Open Christianity' and the city
authorities came to a head on 22 February when members of the riot
police--the feared OMON--tried to take possession by force of the
fine building which houses the school, a kindergarten and pedagogical
institute at the end of Nevsky Prospekt close to the Alexander Nevsky
Monastery. About a month earlier Rimma Sevastyanova had told Keston,
'We restored the building, sponsors from Holland and America helped
us. In 1995 a case was fabricated against us on the basis that an
agreement had been signed with only one organisation which is now
said to be renting out part of the building to other groups including
a kindergarten. On this basis a resolution evicting us from the
building was issued in 1995, but at that time no-one either from the
court or the police bothered us, and this situation went on for 3
years.'

ANDREI BOLSHAKOV, a pastor from 'Life in Christ' (part of the Church
of Evangelical Christians) and a parent of one of the school's
pupils, told Keston that at 13.40 on Thursday 25 February members of
the militia (not the OMON this time) stormed the building and were
confronted by two women members of the staff and the school's
director, INGA IVANOVA. The latter suffered some cuts and bruising,
and the other two were in shock and needed medical attention. But
all insisted on remaining in the building. The order to take over the
building had come from GENERAL VLASOV, head of the city
administration of the Interior Ministry, after the Committee for City
Property had made the building over to this body.

A St Petersburg deputy and member of the Yabloko parliamentary
faction, PETR SHELESH, had come to the defence of Open Christianity
and was campaigning on its behalf, Pastor Bolshakov told Keston. He
said that deputy Shelesh was in Moscow working with lawyers on an
appeal which would be lodged with the Supreme Arbitration Court. He
predicted that the police presence round the school would continue
until 12 March, when an eviction order was due to be served on Open
Christianity.

The schoolchildren on each day of the seige have been issuing
bulletins with their own drawings and such information as: 'We
continue to build barricades, we are already specialists in this
field of human knowledge'. One child's drawing shows a girl on her
knees in front of a notice on the wall which reads '26 February.
Today's lesson: Do not be afraid for I am with you.' Another drawing
depicts clouds and sunshine and a house with people going in and out
with the words 'The Lord will preserve thy going out and thy coming
in from this day forth for evermore.' The bulletins have been folded
into paper planes and sent gliding over to the other side of the
road, recounted Rimma Sevastyanova to Keston.

The parents who are taking turns to keep watch at the metro entrance
opposite Open Christianity held a service on the pavement on Saturday
evening, said Rimma Sevastyanova, and those inside the building
joined in the singing from a first floor window. 'They sang "We love
you" and we sang back. There was a great sense of unity.'

Efforts by Keston to get city authorities to comment have so far been
unsuccessful. (END)

Tuesday 2 March
WAHHABISM IN DAGESTAN AND CHECHNYA

by Mikhail Roshchin, Keston News Service

The community of radical Muslims or supporters of 'pure Islam' (the
so-called Wahhabites) of Dagestan, with Bagauddin Kebedov as their
capable and active leader, is an interesting and alarming phenomenon
within the rapid Islamic revival in the northern Caucasus. It arose at
the end of the 1980s. Today supporters of radical Islam amount to
approximately 6-7 per cent of the population of Dagestan. Radical
Muslims are trying to revive Islam according to the Koran and the
traditions of the prophet Mohammed and thus free it from the
prejudices and extraneous features which have built up over the course
of history in traditional Islam. During my visits to Dagestan I have
been fortunate to meet the head or amir, as he is called, of the
community of Wahhabites, or jamaat (as the supporters of 'pure Islam'
call their community) as well as certain other leaders of the
community. Wahhabites call themselves simply Muslims, and their
community 'the Muslim jamaat'. Bagauddin Kebedov, the 'amir of the
jamaat', explained that his supporters believe the postcommunist
government of Dagestan to be in a state of 'shirk' (paganism).
Bagauddin considers the medieval Arab lawyer Ibn Teimiya to be one of
the main authorities in interpretation of sharia law. The amir of the
Wahhabites believes Islam to be an entire system for human life. In
the early 1990s he was one of the initiators in the foundation of the
Islamic Renaissance Party in Dagestan, but now Bagauddin believes that
it is more important to form a community (jamaat). The registration of
mosques and Wahhabite communities, in his view, is not of major
significance: 'We are already registered with Allah', Bagauddin says,
'we do not want to take power into our own hands, we want all power to
be in Allah's hands. For us geographical and state boundaries are of
no significance, we work and act wherever we can. Today Dagestan is
run from Moscow, we do not have an Islamic society like that in
Chechnya. We would like, for example, a complete ban on the sale of
alcohol, but for us faith (iman) and one God (taukhid) are more
important. In an Islamic state we would like to introduce the service
of the mukhtasib (the policing of morals). We see the habit of
smoking, and drug taking, as things which are forbidden.

I asked Bagauddin what he thought about the possible independence of
Dagestan. He answered that he was a supporter of an Islamic state, and
for him that was the main thing. A state of kufr (unbelief) was for
him unacceptable, whether within the Russian Federation or an
independent Dagestan.

I spent the night in Kizilyurt with the main publisher of the
Wahhabites, Najmuddin. He has published a whole library of radical
Islamic thinkers in Russian: Seiid Kutb, Abu Alya al-Maududi, Khasan
al-Bann and many others. He has also published 'The Book of the One
God' (Kitab at-Taukhid) by Mohammed Ibn Abdal-Vakhkhab. He is
currently constructing a website on radical Muslims of Dagestan and
the northern Caucasus on the Internet.

Until 1990 Najmuddin was a maths teacher in a secondary school. He
spent most of his life in Pervomaisky village 500m from the Chechen
border, where a significant battle took place between the Chechen
troops of Salman Raduyev and federal forces. His parents still live
there. The inhabitants of the village are ethnic Khvarshiny (a small
mountain people from the Tsumadin region of Dagestan, which borders on
Georgia and Chechnya). The inhabitants of Pervomaiskoye are emigrants
from the settlement of Santlad. In 1946 they were resettled in the
Vedensk region in place of deported Chechens, and after their return
they were sent to Pervomaiskoye. Amir Bagauddin of the jamaat and
several other Wahhabite leaders are emigres either from Santlad or
from Pervomaiskoye.

The central mosque of the jamaat of radical Muslims is situated in
Kizilyurt, a town not far from Makhachkala. The supporters of the
jamaat are active, for example, in Avar villages like Kirovo-aul
(Kizilyurt raion) and Bukhty (the head of the village administration
of Wahhabites lives in this settlement of the Gunib raion).
Bagauddin's supporters publish the newspaper 'Khalif', which first
started in Dagestan but is now published in Chechnya.

The military wing of the Wahhabites, although linked with Bagauddin's
jamaat, is evidently largely orientated towards Khattab, the Jordanian
commanding officer of Islamic troops in Chechnya. Armed Wahhabites led
by Brigadier General Jarull Rajbaddinov from the settlement of
Kharamakhi completely control the little 'Wahhabite republic' situated
in the Buinak raion and consisting of three Dargin villages:
Karamakhi, Chabanmakhi and Kadar. Khattab�s second wife is from the
village of Karamakhi. Moreover, 16 Arab warriors of their detachment
also took Karamakhin girls as wives. Khattab's unit maintains the
closest links with the 'Wahhabite republic'.

Following discussions between Russian minister of internal affairs
Sergei Stepashin and the Wahhabites of the villages of Karamakhi and
Chabanmakhi on 20 August 1998 the situation surrounding the Wahhabite
republic became less tense. But for how long? It is difficult to say.
The strong political support of a string of Chechen leaders stands
behind the military wing of the Wahhabites: Shamil Basayev and Salman
Raduyev, as well as Movladi Udugov and Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who hold
fundamentalist views.

Interestingly, the current Chechen minister of education, former
village teacher Abdulvakhkhab Zusainov, is a supporter of radical
Islam.

There is also a more fanatical wing of radical Muslims lead by a
Dagestani, Aiyub, who lives in Astrakhan. His supporters can also be
found in Dagestan, especially in the villages of Kvanada (Tsumadin
raion) and Beli (Derbent raion).

In Stavropol Wahhabism is primarily represented by local Nogais.

In Moscow there is a mosque in Tatarsky Pereulok where radical Muslims
meet. (END)