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Over 50 crimes against religious activists committed in Dagestan in recent years

August 05, 2013, 16:45 UTC+3

Last Saturday in Makhachkala unidentified gunmen shelled the car of former imam Ilyas Ilyasov that died at the scene

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Photo ITAR-TASS/Abdula Magomedov

Photo ITAR-TASS/Abdula Magomedov

MAKHACHKALA, August 5 (Itar-Tass) - Over 50 crimes against religious activists have been committed in Russia’s southern republic of Dagestan over recent years, a spokesman for the Spiritual Department of Muslims of Dagestan told Itar-Tass on Monday.

Last Saturday in Makhachkala, unidentified gunmen shelled the car of former imam Ilyas Ilyasov. He died at the scene from gunshot wounds and his driver was taken to hospital in a grave condition. A criminal case has been opened. The investigators believe that the murder could be connected with Ilyasov’s religious activity.

“None of the crimes against religious activists in Dagestan have been solved,” department spokesman Magomedrasul Omarov said. “Some of them were simply attributed to some killed suspected gunmen. If we speak about murder attempts and murders, there have been more than 50 such crimes over recent years,” he said.

“Those responsible have not come up for trial. That is why we don’t particularly believe that the murder of Ilyas will be solved,” Omarov said.

“Dagestan faces a high level of corruption, arbitrary behavior,” he noted. “People see and feel this. They find some consolation in religion, but the problem here is that there is an awful religious illiteracy in Dagestan. Some study Islam through the Internet, believing that it is the religion of only Jihad,” Omarov said.

“In any case, in order to have the crimes against religious activists stopped, it is necessary to solve at least two problems - improve the economy and fight against religious illiteracy,” he added.

The spokesman also said that in 1998, the department stopped sending young people to study Islam. “This decision was made because while studying in Arab countries they were subject to the influence of radical movements,” he explained.

“That is why we are sending them to study only at master courses, when they already have mature religious outlooks. But we cannot control those who want to study abroad. Many young people return from Arab countries with extreme radical views,” Omarov said.

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