Tuesday, September 23, 2014


North Caucasus

Daghestani Brothers Struggle To Bridge Religious, Political Divides

"When [my brother] tells me...that I shouldn't celebrate the Prophet's birthday, I answer: 'Stop. This is where this conversation must end,'" says Rustam (Abubakar) Shapiyev. Magomed Shapiyev refused to be photographed for this story.
"When [my brother] tells me...that I shouldn't celebrate the Prophet's birthday, I answer: 'Stop. This is where this conversation must end,'" says Rustam (Abubakar) Shapiyev. Magomed Shapiyev refused to be photographed for this story.

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Daghestan Becomes Hotbed Of North Caucasus Insurgency

The assassination of a Salafi imam in Daghestan last week marked the fifth time a Muslim cleric was killed in the volatile North Caucasus region this year. Why is Daghestan such a hotbed of instability?
By Uma Isakova
An uneasy peace holds between Ruslan and Rustam Shapiyev in the Daghestani village of Komsomolskoye.

Younger brother Rustam, who has taken the name Abubakar, says he loves and respects his older brother, who has adopted the name Magomed.

"Of course, a brother is a brother. We are obligated to maintain kinship ties," Abubakar says. "Magomed is my older brother. When he enters the room, I stand. I serve him food. I respect him and seek his advice. We help one another."

But when it comes to religion, things are not so harmonious.

"When he tells me, for instance, that I shouldn't celebrate the Prophet's birthday, I answer: 'Stop. This is where this conversation must end,'" Abubakar says.

Threat Of Detention

Twenty-eight-year-old Abubakar is a Sufi Muslim, a branch of Islam that is officially recognized in Daghestan. Magomed, 31, is a devotee of Salafism, a confession that is banned under the republic's 1999 law on Wahhabism and other perceived forms of extremism. Four of the brothers' cousins have also adopted Salafism.

In this volatile republic, Magomed, who declined to be photographed for this article, might easily be whisked off the streets by police at any moment and held without explanation.
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In fact, Magomed says, it happens frequently.

"I am not going to kill my brother, but [the authorities] are coming to kill me," he says. "If I even try to go out in public and speak about my desire to live in a Shari'a-based state, I would disappear. I've been taken to the police station many times. Many of my friends have disappeared.

"I remember one morning when I was on my way to prayers," he continues, "a police van stopped next to me and they shoved me in without any explanation. At the police station, they asked me why I was running away from them. I answered: 'I didn't run anywhere. I was walking to morning prayers at the mosque.' They threatened me, tried to scare me."

He claims that two of his friends are serving time in prison after confessing under torture to crimes they say they didn't commit.

Rampant Violence

Independent human rights organizations estimate some 800 men in Daghestan between the ages of 18 and 40 have been killed so far this year in the insurgency, official reprisals, and sectarian violence. About 600 of them were ethnic Avars, like the Shapiyev brothers.

Said-Afandi Artsayev, a spiritual leader of Dagestan's Sufi Muslims, was killed in a suicide bombing in August.Said-Afandi Artsayev, a spiritual leader of Dagestan's Sufi Muslims, was killed in a suicide bombing in August.
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Said-Afandi Artsayev, a spiritual leader of Dagestan's Sufi Muslims, was killed in a suicide bombing in August.
Said-Afandi Artsayev, a spiritual leader of Dagestan's Sufi Muslims, was killed in a suicide bombing in August.
Abubakar is also uneasy about the violence.

"When he was interior minister [of Russia], Rashid Nurgaliyev assembled at a local club here the widows of all the slain police officers. A whole army of women in mourning dress showed up," he says. "They were all young and beautiful. What is going to happen to them now? Soon, we will have no one to take care of our elders."

According to Abubakar, Magomed turned to Salafism while he was living in the Russian city of Veliky Novgorod and running a small business in 2009-11. Abubakar says his brother was influenced at that time by "extremist websites."

Magomed, however, insists that Salafism is distinct from Wahhabism and that the authorities are using official media to create a false impression of Salafism as violent and extreme.

The brothers say they are working hard to stay close, for the sake of their 51-year-old mother. Magomed says he tries to avoid theoretical conversations with his mother and focuses instead on aspects that the two strands of Islam have in common.

Abubakar adds that the Sufi elders he has consulted have also advised him not to reject his brother. He takes his religion seriously -- and his family ties to his brother, as well. But he tries to focus on the bigger picture.

"What are we supposed to do now? Kill each other? Am I supposed to kill my brother and my four cousins? Is that really our fate?" Abubakar asks. "I'm more concerned about how pure I will be when I stand before Allah. All the other stuff is one thing, but that is something else. Why do I need all of this?"

RFE/RL correspondent Robert Coalson contributed to this report
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
November 28, 2012 14:21
İslam is a state religion. Muslims can not live alone. There must be at least 3 Muslims, there must be a "Muslim community". Because 1 of them must be the "commander", to "command" other Muslims with Quran, with the book of İslam. İts very clear rule. İf there is no "muslim ruler", for example : Muslims can not make the "juma prayer", "juma" is a weekly convention of Muslims. This prayer needs an İslamic state, a Muslim ruler, who must rule with Quran.

Daghestanian Sufi people are good, they protected native caucasian mountainer culture against Russian, Arabian and Persian cultures. But Salafi people are nervous, they reject every term of their forefathers. And Daghestan reject them.
In Response

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
November 28, 2012 16:58
Must do this. Cannot do that. Must do this. What a miserable way to live. I live in freedom. My wife and I are the commanders of our lives. Everyone else can go pound sand.
In Response

by: Azim from: Chechnya
November 29, 2012 14:16
"My wife and I are the commanders of our lives."

O really?! Well, try not to pay taxes or get the custody of your children when you get a divorce from your "commanding" wife. Or question your country's support for certain nasty countries. But you'll never do that will ya? It's much, much safer to bash Muslims from a distance, right?
In Response

by: Michael from: Ingushetia
December 02, 2012 15:20
"Must do this. Cannot do that. Must do this. What a miserable way to live."
Yes, Russia is a prison. Even Russians themselves run from Russia. Thanks for supporting our cause Bill. We all want our freedom from oppressive Russian regime.
In Response

by: yippee kiyay from: usa
December 04, 2012 09:23
How many moslems do there have to be before they can practice jihad and implement the commands of the Verse of the Sword? How many moslems do there have to be before they command people to convert or die or be relegated to second class status? How many moslems do there have to be before they can spend all their days in homicidal hatred of Christians and Jews (and Americans and the few remaining Christian Europeans)? I say one moslem in a Christian country is one too many. I also say that one sharia practicing state in the world is one too many. (You long to live in a sharia practicing state? You are a fool who has obviously never visited such a state. Any honest person would prefer a Christians society to a sharia society regardless of what religion he claims.) The world will never be free until it has shaken off and outgrown the blood-thirsty dictatorial religions of islam and socialism.

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