by Nina Achmatova, Asia News — 12/4/2013
Political and spiritual leaders concerned about rising fundamentalism in the Russian autonomous republic with a Muslim majority. Spiritual leaders invite people not to give in to provocations. Local priest: " The Wahhabis are the culprits."
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Churches burned, attacks foiled and increased pressure on Christians to convert to Islam. In Tatarstan - autonomous republic of the Russian Federation, with a Muslim majority - the extremism alarm is increasing. So much so that the President Rustam Minnikhanov has expressed concern and promised to personally follow the investigations.
As for the fires, and in various parts of the region, the charges have been formalized as vandalism , and arson, in violation of freedom of conscience and religion. Investigators insist, however , that they be considered as "acts of terrorism" .
The last year saw Christian seven parishes torched. The last two episodes occurred on 28 and 29 November, as reported by the Regnum.ru news agency. In 2012 there was a similar case. The attorney general pointed the finger at "unidentified extremists" and the culprits risk up to 20 years in prison .
According to the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, investigators are following the trail of Wahhabi groups That those responsible for the attacks are Muslims adherents to radical Islam with the support of the local clergy. In an interview with Interfax , Father Dmitri Sizov , pastor of Pestrechinsky, said that " the whole community knows that it is the work of the Wahhabis ." According to the priest, in some predominantly Christian villages of Tatarstan "fundamentalist agitators roam, inviting the faithful to convert to Islam". "The priests remain silent because they are afraid of being accused of incitement to religious hatred", added Fr . Sizov .
President Minnikhanov has offered a reward of one million rubles for those who provide useful information to identify those responsible for the attacks, and a criminal investigation for terrorist attacks was opened, after the discovery of unexploded ordnance in the districts of Alexeyevsky and Nizhnekamsk , at the end of November .
For their part, the local religious leaders - Muslims and Orthodox - have appealed to their communities not to give in to what they call "provocations" aimed at "destroying the good interfaith relations developed over the centuries in the Volga region". "The vandalism against objects and places of worship is a direct insult to the sentiments of the faithful and those responsible for these acts deserve wide public condemnation ," the Metropolitan Anastasius and the mufti of Tatarstan Kamil Samigullin, wrote in a joint statement.