Sharia in Moscow

By IndepthAfrica
In Europe
Apr 30th, 2012
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“You think that we are coming here as foreigners, but we believe that we are at home here and maybe you are the foreigners. We will make those laws that suit us, whether you like it or not, and any attempts to change that will lead to spilled blood. There will be a second dead sea here and we will drown the city in blood.”

Those were not the words of some back alley preacher, but of noted Moscow lawyer, Dagir Khasavov, giving an interview to a television station about his proposal to implement Sharia courts in Russia. Interspersed with footage of death sentences being executed, Khasavov spoke about his new organization that would protect Muslim rights and claimed that his proposal was only the beginning of a worldwide expansion.

“We are going to expand this net, we will begin in Russia, first Asia, and then everything will be encompassed, as it was in the Caliphate,” Khasavov said. According to Khasavov, Russian security services already unofficially refer cases involving Muslims back to Sharia courts and his proposal to officially establish such courts would only legitimize the parallel justice system that already exists for the millions of Muslims who now live in Moscow and other cities.

There is no official count of the number of Muslims who have migrated to find work in Moscow, but it might be as high as a third of the population. Muslim prayers spill out into the streets and take over portions of the city. After the demolition of the decrepit Cathedral Mosque, eighty thousand Muslims took over the streets to celebrate Eid al-Adha while the police scrambled to control the streets.

Halal cafes are easier to set up than mosques and have proliferated much faster. Unofficial Sharia courts already operate out of Moscow mosques with Imams acting as the arbitrators, but Khasavov would like to go much further. Last year he proposed the creation of a Council of Imams, the first step toward establishing a united Muslim legal system. Nor is Khasavov a man who can be easily dismissed as a bearded lunatic playing Al-Awlaki sermons.

Khasavov has an extended background with the MVD, Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, a section of its security services, and graduated from two of its institutions, including one named after Felix Dzerzhinsky, the godfather of Russia’s police state. Until recently he served as an aide to a member of the Federation Council dealing with social policy. And media coverage of his Sharia courts proposal was generally positive until a hostile interviewer on REN TV baited him into a rant that led to a catastrophic backlash causing him to temporarily leave the country.  It is entirely possible that his proposal was a trial balloon from higher up the food chain.

One of the stranger acts of Muslim terror in Moscow was the assassination of a Russian Orthodox Priest who had spent a great deal of time campaigning against Islam. Fr. Danill Sysoyev was killed in his own church by a masked man armed with a Makarov pistol tipped with a silencer. Security services supposedly turned up the pistol in the hands of a dead man they had killed, but no one appears to believe this version of the story, including the Moscow Patriarchate.

The method of the killing would have been out of character for Muslim terrorists, but entirely in character for the Russian security services, which have assassinated enemies of the state in the exact same manner. Opposition figures have been killed by masked gunmen armed with silenced pistols in public places, with their murders added to the list of unsolved crimes or attributed to some convenient career criminal. It would not have been the first time that the Russian security services had murdered a priest who fell out of line with government policy and treated it as an unsolved murder. The case of Alexander Men comes to mind.

Putin, like many European leaders, has used the Muslim presence to create chaos and instability for his own purposes. The UK’s Labour Party imported Muslim immigrants in their own divide and conquer scheme for Britain and Putin is following the same policies, the only difference is that critics of Russian government policy don’t get dragged into court on racism charges, they get shot in the head and the crime becomes another unsolved murder.

Like Europe, Russia is on the path to demographic suicide and has adapted to it by trying to divide Muslims into two groups, those they think they can control and the extremists who have to be suppressed. The native population is treated the same way. The lawless violence of the Russian government makes it easier to suppress the “extremists” in ways that the Eurocrats could not even dream of, but that doesn’t mean that its policies are fundamentally different.

Nearly a sixth of the Russian population is already Muslim and the birth rate numbers have put it on track to a Muslim majority. It’s an open question as to whether the authorities will allow things to go that far, but tellingly the Russian military is projected to become a majority Muslim force in a much shorter time. Once that happens it will become very difficult to change the direction of a country where control of the armed forces and major cities counts for more than the ballot box.

It’s not just Obama who has said that Islam has always been a part of his country, Medvedev said before him at an Arab League meeting in Cairo. “Russia does not need to seek friendship with the Muslim world,” he said, “Our country is an organic part of this world.”

Khasavov’s proposal follows Medvedev’s logic. If Russia, like America, is part of the Muslim world, it needs Sharia law and courts. And it will have them; initially under the auspices of trusted Muslim leaders, who like Khasavov, have links to the security services.

Putin is less concerned with whether he rules a Christian or Muslim country, so long as his power is unchallenged. And his propaganda increasingly aims at presenting his rule in a Muslim religious context. After the Iraq War, Russia’s Supreme Mufti called for a “joint ‘Orthodox-Islamic’ Jihad” against the United States and an election song by a Muslim singer set to traditional rhythms mixed with pop music praised Putin as “God’s Messenger”.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of Chechnya, was even more direct, saying, “Putin gave the Chechen nation its second life! Allah appointed him to his position.”  Kakiev Said-Magomed Shamaev, leader of a GRU Spetsnaz battalion, appeared in a Pravda piece titled, “Special Services fight in the name of Allah and Putin.”

This brand of Eurasianism is to Russia what multiculturalism is to the West, both reject the European context and in doing so hope to build an empire through union with the Muslim world. And both strategies are equally doomed. Instead of protecting Russia, Putin has protected his own power and once again the Russian people are paying the price for the imperial dreams of their leaders.

Today the bloody mess on the streets of Moscow is only that of sheep being slaughtered for Muslim festivals, but If Russia continues on its present course the day will come when Khasavov’s prediction of a city drowned in the blood of Muslim violence will come true.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.

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