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From: "Nickolai Butkevich" <nbutkevich@ucsj.com>
Subject: Re #7176 "Facing extreme prejudice"
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003

Dear David,

I thought you would perhaps be interested in this letter to the editor prompted by the article on Russian Muslims in this week's issue of "The Economist." I haven't heard yet if they will print it or not.


Nickolai Butkevich
May 13, 2003
The Economist
Letters to the Editor
25 St James's Street
London SW1A 1HG
VIA FACSIMILE: 020 7839 2968

Sir- Your article on Russian Muslims ("Facing Extreme Prejudice"-May 10-16) presented an inaccurate portrayal of Heidar Jemal, chairman of the Islamic Committee in Moscow. In contrast to the negative picture of bickering muftis presented in the article, Mr. Jemal is held up as a leader who "wants to rejuvenate Islamic philosophy" and "sprinkles his conversation liberally with references to Hegel and Kant." There is no mention of the fact that he was once a prominent member of Pamyat-the founding party of the Russian neo-fascist movement in the late 1980s-nor that his public statements on current world events place him well within the radical fringe of Russia's mostly moderate Islamic community.

Anybody wanting to learn what Mr. Jemal's "rejuvenated Islamic philosophy" looks like should read a lengthy profile on him printed in the leading Russian newspaper "Moskovsky Komsomolets" on December 7, 2001. There, a reader can find Mr. Jemal's views on the September 11 attacks ( "This action could have been carried out only with the assistance of Israeli intelligence and the CIA."); the Taliban's demolition of Buddhist statues ("I fully support the demolition of Buddhist monuments. Buddhism is not something innocuous."); and relations between Islam and the West ("Islam is a civilization established by God, which has to defend itself against the pagan barbarity of the West."). These and other extremist statements by Mr. Jemal have been reported in several Russian media outlets through the years; your Moscow correspondent should have taken them into account.

Nickolai Butkevich
UCSJ: Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union
Washington, DC
Research and Advocacy Director
UCSJ: Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union
1819 H. St., NW Suite 230
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 775-9770 x107
Fax: (202) 775-9776
www.fsumonitor.com -- Daily Updates on Antisemitism, Extremism and Jewish Life in the FSU

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