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Caucasus Report

Popular Ingushetian Imam Under Pressure

Khamzat Chumakov gives a sermon in Rostov-na-Donu.
Khamzat Chumakov gives a sermon in Rostov-na-Donu.
Over the past five years, Khamzat-haji Chumakov, imam of the Nasyr-Kort mosque on the outskirts of Nazran, has acquired cult status among young believers in Ingushetia thanks to his sermons  denouncing bloodshed and Islamic extremism and exhorting his listeners to remain true to Ingush national values.

Ingushetian human rights activist Magomed Mutsolgov commented in a recent blog post that the Ingushetian authorities should treasure Chumakov as an asset and an ally in their efforts to halt the stream of young men who "head for the forest" to join the Islamic insurgency. Instead, however, they have apparently decided he constitutes a threat.

Official permission for Chumakov to address a gathering in Malgobek on July 15 was withdrawn at the last minute. Days later, security personnel stopped and threatened his nephew. Police have confiscated 362 DVDs of Chumakov's Friday sermons. An as-yet-unconfirmed report claims that Chumakov has been summoned to appear on August 7 before Ingushetia's Shari'a Court.

Chumakov studied Islamic theology in Egypt. In September 2010, he lost a leg when a bomb attached to his car exploded. Ingushetian law enforcement officials blamed that murder attempt on the Islamic insurgency, the activities of which Chumakov had unequivocally condemned.

But the head of the Ingushetian insurgency wing denied responsibility for the blast. "Despite the differences in our views on some issues, we acknowledge that Khamzat Chumakov is known in Ingushetia as one of the few principled, courageous,  and unbribable clerics, and his death could benefit only the enemies of the Ingush people," he wrote.

Chumakov's reputation as a preacher has spread far beyond Ingushetia. In recent months, he has travelled to Rostov-na-Donu, Nalchik, and even Moscow to speak to Ingush communities there. In March, he launched his own website, ingislam.ru.

According to blog posts on ingushetiyaru.org, the reason the Ingushetian authorities mistrust Chumakov is that some of his sermons focus on "political" issues, including corruption. (Ingush oppositionists have repeatedly denounced republic head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov for allegedly turning a blind eye to blatant corruption within his entourage and even his own family.)

Yevkurov professes himself an admirer of Chumakov: he visited him in a Moscow hospital after the attempt on his life two years ago, and again when he returned to Ingushetia four months later.

Yevkurov said last week he had gone more than once to hear Chumakov preach and respected him deeply. At the same time, he said Chumakov was meddling in politics by speaking on secular topics, and had "violated established order" by travelling outside Ingushetia to speak without first securing permission from the republic's Council of Muftis.

Yevkurov further alleged that the proposed meeting in Malgobek in mid-July had not been approved by the local municipality and therefore constituted a violation of the law on public meetings. Yevkurov stressed that "no one is planning to persecute" Chumakov -- and threatened to sue Mutsolgov for libel for suggesting otherwise.

Tags: Ingushetia

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jack from: US
August 07, 2012 14:25
US has done all illegal sanctions on Iran, but not satisfy.Zionist policy ends here, started blackmailing to Iran. Turkey should think every step else its result will be same as Al-saud. May Almighty Allah help this innocent victims.

by: CC
August 07, 2012 14:30
I've listened to Kh. Chunakov's lectures in Ingush on YouTube. He rarely speaks other languages. I'd say majority of the time his lectures are addressing the issues of corruption and murder of Ingushetians by Russian government forces. He is well prepared and never touches "terrorism" subjects of Islam e.g. jihad.
It is known that the magnetic satchel charge was planted on his car's driver side by the FSB while he was interrogated in their office. It was a very precise device. Lucky for him the shaped charge cone went into his leg and not into his torso.
In Response

by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
August 07, 2012 19:43
Thanks for your comment. I used to have a bumper sticker on my truck that read ‘if you want peace, work for justice.’ I don’t know how any cleric can avoid addressing gross injustice, and still be considered credible.

I read a recent report how the Russian authorities are using increasingly repressive measures to squash any ‘Wahhabi’ movement in Dagestan. Are they doing the same thing in Ingushetia?

by: Anonymous
August 08, 2012 01:04
"Popular Ingushetian Imam Under Pressure"
Ingushetian or Ingush?
In Response

by: Mamuka
August 08, 2012 11:45
I think when terms like "Azerbaijani" or "Uzbekistani" are used they are trying to describe a nationality rather than an ethnic group. To me it is just confusing. Also curious that if the people are "Ingush" then "Ingusheti" sounds like a Georgian place name. What do the Ingush call their homeland in their own language?

by: Anonymous
August 08, 2012 23:01
"Nasyr-Kort mosque on the outskirts of Nazran"
Russian is no use for Ingush. Nazran is a Russian name for Nassare, and Nassare-Kort is one of the regions of Nassare, the center (head) of Nassare. More like a city center which Russians put on the outskirts.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.