Posted by Women Against Sharia
A top Muslim cleric in Russia’s Tatarstan province was shot dead Thursday and another was wounded by a car bomb, attacks that the province’s leader and local religious authorities said were probably related to the priests’ criticism of radical Islamists.
Valiulla Yakupov, the deputy to the Muslim province’s chief mufti, was gunned down Thursday as he left his house in Tatarstan’s regional capital of Kazan, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. Minutes later, chief mufti Ildus Faizov was wounded in the leg after an explosive device ripped through his car in central Kazan, it said.
Both clerics were known as critics of radical Islamist groups that advocate a strict and puritan version of Islam known as Salafism. Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Russian media his agency was looking into the clerics’ stances as a possible reason for the attacks. By Thursday evening, investigators said they were viewing the attacks as terrorism.
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The rise of Salafism in this oil-rich Volga River province has been fueled by the influx of Muslim clerics from Chechnya and other predominantly Muslim provinces of Russia’s Caucasus region, where Islamic insurgency has been raging for years. Last year, Doku Umarov, leader of embattled Chechen separatists, issued a religious decree calling on radical Islamists from the Caucasus to move to the densely-populated Volga River region that includes Tatarstan.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Thursday did not comment on who might be behind the attacks, but said they are “a reminder that the situation in our country is far from ideal.”
The 49-year-old Faizov became Tatarstan’s chief mufti in 2011 and began a crackdown on radical Islamists by dismissing ultraconservative preachers and banning textbooks from Saudi Arabia, where the government-approved religious doctrine is based on Salafism.
He has also been criticized by media in Tatarstan for allegedly profiting on tours he organized for Muslim pilgrims and for trying to gain control of one of the oldest and largest mosques in Kazan, which receives hefty donations from thousands of believers.
Tatarstan’s regional leader condemned the attack and called for tougher measures against radical Islamists…