History, traditions
Author`s name Michael Simpson

Talgat Tadjuddin Draws Blunt Saber and Declares Jihad to USA - 7 April, 2003

The last week in Russia's Moslem community was marked with a scandalous trick of the so-called high mufti, the head of the Central Spiritual Moslem department, sheikh Talgat Tadjuddin that he played at a meeting held by the United Russia party in the city of Ufa. When the party gave the sheikh permission to speak at the meeting, he drew a large saber (as it turned out later, it was blunt), waved it in the air and declared jihad against the USA. Then he explained everything in detail to journalists: "Tonight, muftis belonging to the Central Spiritual Moslem department used facsimile telegraph to vote in support of jihad. So, we have already declared war against the USA and other aggressors." Also, Tadjuddin said that the war would mean purchase and delivery of ammunition to Iraq.

After the sensational statement, journalists, mostly American, besieged Ravil Gainutdin, the head of Russia's Mufti Council, who is also considered an opponent to Tadjuddin. They asked for comments on the sensational statement. This time the Moslem leader made some statements in the opponent's address that were harsher than before, as he understood perfectly well it was high time to act. He started an undisguised attack against Talgat Tadjuddin.

Ravil Gainutdin interrupted his vacation and immediately left for Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He told the president that muftis from Russia's Mufti Council had already made a statement saying that any attempt to declare jihad at the time being was illegitimate, extremist and populist. The head of the Islamic Committee Geidar Jemal and other members of the Mufti Council say that spring tension has particular influence upon the conduct of Tadjuddin. Jemal called Tadjuddin "a clown in a robe, mentally diseased, a provocateur.")

Although Tadjuddin is used to be supported by the Russian Orthodox Church in the hours of need, this time he was refused any kind of support by the Russian church. The reason to it is quite simple: a couple of days before Tadjuddin declared jihad, his mufti organization had decided to change the name for the Islamic spiritual management center of Saint Russia's Moslems. The phrase is strange, there should be either Saint Russia or Moslems mentioned in the name of the organization, not all together. According to the information obtained from the Russian Orthodox Church, conduct of their Moslem colleague is also criticized there.

Meanwhile, the Russian General Office of Public Prosecutor issued a warning to Talgat Tadjuddin. What is more, he was also notified that if allowed more statements similar to the recent declaration of jihad, his department that had been set in the second part of the 18th century would be disbanded.

Russia President Vladimir Putin felt he was hurt by Tadjuddin's statement on jihad more than anyone. He said at a meeting with Russian Physician Leonid Roshal: "We shouldn't allow emotions to prevail. We are not interested in defeat of the USA." At that, the president drove Russian Moslems into a corner as the believers didn't change their position concerning the Iraqi war. On Friday, Moslems were asking  themselves in the Moscow Cathedral Mosque: "How is it possible that we call the USA an aggressor, but at the same time it is declared we are not interested in the defeat of this aggressor?"

As for President Vladimir Putin, he explained that Russia and the USA had much in common in the economic and political sphere, that is why he said Russia wasn't interested in America's defeat. Despite this explanation given by the president, Moslems all the same remained slightly irritated because the USA was called "an aggressor, but still a strategic partner". This irritation may have a negative effect on the relations between the government and the Moslem community, especially on the eve of forthcoming elections.

As for more comments on the situation connected with Tadjuddin's declaration of jihad, nothing was reported by the official and even opposition TV channels. And this is despite the fact that journalists promised to publish materials connected with the scandals. Just few newspapers issued in Moscow published the truth about the jihad scandal; however, these very newspapers are not read in the province, that is why people living there hardly know about the jihad declaration at all.

To all appearances, Tadjuddin will soon have to face hard times. In future, the Kremlin will try to avoid having any contacts with the sheikh. Until recently, the presidential administration rendered him assistance: President Putin paid just two official visits to mosques in Russia, both visits were to the mosques in Ufa run by Tadjuddin. The Kremlin is unlikely to forgive him the jihad story.

As for the authority of Talgat Tadjuddin among the Russian Moslems, it is on the decline.

Yegor Titov
Special to PRAVDA.Ru

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