Publicist and independent trade-union head Isalmagomed Nabiyev has written
to Daghestan's new president, Magomedsalam Magomedov, urging him to annul the republican law passed in September 1999 banning "Wahhabism" and "other extremist activity."
The law was passed at the urging of Daghestan's then-president, Magomedali Magomedov, who is the current president's father, just after Daghestani civilians and Russian troops combined forces to repel successive armed incursions from Chechnya spearheaded by the radical Islamist faction within the Chechen leadership.
Nabiyev described the law as containing "aggressive and discriminatory" formulations that police and security forces subsequently adduced to hound and even kill any practicing Muslims whom they suspected of belonging to, or even sympathizing with, the Islamic insurgency. As a result, Nabiyev writes, "the people have become a hostage in a civil war between adherents of two strains of Islam."
Nabiyev recalled that several successive sets of proposed amendments to the law were submitted to Daghestan's then-prosecutor Imam Yaraliyev, but Yaraliyev "lacked the courage and decisiveness" to endorse them.
The Daghestan prosecutor's office and the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Daghestan have declined to comment on Nabiyev's letter. But two Daghestani parliament deputies -- Seyfullakh Isayev and Akhmed Azizov -- have expressed their agreement, as have one present (Khizri Shikhsaidov) and one former (Gadzhi Makhachev) State Duma deputy from Daghestan. Makhachev recalled that he had categorically opposed the law at the time, but that then-parliament speaker Mukhu Aliyev (who succeeded Magomedali Magomedov as president) pressured deputies to pass it.
Nabiyev is not the first prominent political figure in Daghestan to advocate annulling the law; Khasavyurt Mayor Saygidpasha Umakhanov did so