Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Russian Trial Reflects Split Between Young Muslims and Establishment

Today's New York Times reports on a trial taking place in Kazan, the capital of Russia's Muslim Tatarstan region. Twelve defendants are charged with being members of Hizbut Tahrir, a fundamentalist Islamic organization that, among other things, wants to create an Islamic Caliphate. Russia says Hizbut Tahrir is a terrorist organization, while its members say it is a political party that no longer advocates violence. Relatives say defendants' involvement with Hizbut Tahrir was minimal, and that the real reason for their prosecution is that they were studying different currents in Islam and proselytizing outside official Muslim religious structures. A mufti with the government-backed Muslim Religious Board of the Republic of Tatarstan admitted that the Muslim establishment had not responded well to the more modern interests of young Muslims.