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Russia's Muslims said to be split over jihad on USA

Ufa, 3 April: Head of Russia's Council of Muftis Ravil Gaynutdin has stated that his organization will not declare jihad (holy war) against the USA. This statement came in the wake of the announcement by the Central Islamic Board of Muslims of Holy Russia (the former Central Muslim Board of Russia and the CIS's European Countries) that it is declaring jihad against the United States.

"Russia's Muslims are not declaring jihad [against the US] even though the situation in Iraq is deteriorating. We must be realists. Jihad against the US has been declared by Saddam Husayn. This is enough," Gaynutdin told Interfax on Thursday. He said "religious leaders must not engage in populism or politicking. Instead, they should pray Allah that the Iraqi people's suffering end."

Interfax learned about the Central Islamic Department's decision from Russia's Supreme Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin on Thursday. He said that the latest jihad resolution was the second one in Russian history over the past hundred years. Russian Moslems announced a jihad for the first time against Germany in 1941, Tadzhuddin said...

Antiwar protesters in Ufa supported the jihad on Thursday. About 2,000 people, most of them school and college students, were among the demonstrators.

Tadzhuddin took part in the action, as well, to denounce the military campaign of the United States and Great Britain in Iraq and declare the unanimous decision of Russia's 29 muftis to start the jihad on Thursday. He said they voted for the decision by fax in the early hours of Thursday. The protesters greeted the announcement with loud shouts.

"Any country on earth is God's grace to its people, and none has the right to neglect this holy right," Tadzhuddin said. The cause of the US and British war on Iraq is not oil, but certain strategic plans, he said. "They want to enter into Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia from Iraq, to come to their ally [Georgian President Eduard] Shevardnadze, and approach the border of Russia," the cleric said.

Tadzhuddin told the press after the rally that he did not know the reaction of the administrations of Bashkortostan and Russia to the jihad. "Religion is separated from the state, and we are free to make a decision," Tadzhuddin said...

Independent experts believe that Tadzhuddin and Gaynutdin enjoy about the same popularity with Russia's Muslims. However, formally, Tadzhuddin controls more regional Muslim departments than Gaynutdin (29 against 19.)

There is an independent Muslim Coordinating Centre in the North Caucasus.

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