Senior Islamic Official Assassinated, Second Wounded in Tatarstan, Russia
July 20, 2012 • 8:08AM

There has been a double assassination attempt on Muslim establishment officials in the major Volga River city of Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan in Russia (and the ancient Tatar capital). Chief Mufti Ildus Faizov, head of the Islamic Spiritual Council of Tatarstan, survived the bombing of his car, which was hit by two explosions. One of his deputies, however, the region's top Islamic education official, Valiulla Yakupov, died en route to the hospital after being shot six times by a hitman as he left his apartment building in the morning. Russian media reports note that both men have repeatedly warned against the outside promotion of "radical Islam" in the region, and Yakupov had called for banning Wahhabism. Faizov, too, warned against extremism in an interview last year, when he said, "The Salafis and Wahhabis constitute a very great danger. There are no moderates among them. They all finish one day by taking up arms." Today Tatarstan's President Rustam Minnikhanov released a statement saying, "Our leaders have followed the policy of traditional Islam. It is clear that there are other movements, and what happened today is a clear challenge. ... Our position should be tougher."

Russian President Vladimir Putin opened a late-afternoon meeting with leaders of the Duma parties by discussing these events in national terms. Said Putin, "This reminds us once again that the situation in our country is far from perfect. And we all, all political forces in the country who care about strengthening the unity of the Russian state and maintaining order in our country, ... should analyze the situation in the country very closely, and when we make political decisions, always think about the people's welfare, not about some corporate or group interests. And if we think about party agendas, then they should come second, or third, or fourth. This is a serious signal. On the whole, we realize what is going on in certain regions of the Russian Federation, but it is not enough to realize it. The situation must be understood and analyzed, and decisions adopted in time. In light of this tragic event, we can say that preemptive steps were not taken in this instance."

Grand Mufti of Russia Ravil Gainutdin also expressed concern that Tatarstan had been hit by the kind of targetted violence which has been more common in the North Caucasus area. He said that the people behind the attacks were trying to blow up "the peace and order of the entire Russian Federation," adding, "I have to admit that a wave of violence has come to the Volga region, inclusively."