The Warlord Imam

By Nemtsova, Anna; Matthews, Owen | Newsweek, October 18, 2010 | Go to article overview

The Warlord Imam


Nemtsova, Anna, Matthews, Owen, Newsweek


Byline: Anna Nemtsova and Owen Matthews

The Kremlin's poster boy for moderate Islam may be radicalizing the region.

The video shows a gun barrel jutting from the rear window of a shiny black Lada sedan as it cruises slowly down Putin Prospect, a new boulevard of designer shops in the Chechen capital, Grozny. Spotting a pair of young women in long skirts but without head-scarves, the vehicle's occupants open fire. The two pedestrians scream, but they don't fall. A blot of red paintball ink is spreading across one young woman's blouse. As the vehicle pulls away, the camera shows the two women dashing for safety into the nearest shop.

Chechnya's enforcers of supposed Islamic propriety have struck again. In the name of combating terrorism, President Ramzan Kadyrov has declared war on what he regards as public indecency. "My dream is for all our women to wear scarves, in accordance with Islamic law," he told NEWSWEEK recently. To assist in that fight and correct supposedly un-Islamic conduct, he established his own Taliban-style morality police, the Center for Spiritual and Moral Development and Education, last year. For backup, Chechen militias prowl the streets in black cars and black uniforms, on the alert not only for uncovered hair but for short-sleeve T shirts, short skirts, and public displays of affection. Although many Chechen women have accused them of paintball attacks in the past few months, Kadyrov brushes off the charges, blaming "somebody who wants to blacken my politics."

Kadyrov, 34, has become the standard--bearer for the Kremlin's efforts to pacify the rebellious North Caucasus once and for all. His bare-knuckle style has brought at least some degree of law and order to Chechnya, and that crude success is why the Kremlin trusts him. The region has resisted Moscow's control for centuries, but in the past decade or so, the violence has spread and intensified as Islamist extremism has flourished elsewhere in the world. "Our Afghanistan is inside Russia," says Masha Lipman of the Moscow Carnegie Center. Hundreds of civilians died after Chechen rebels seized a Moscow theater in 2002 and a school in Beslan in 2004. This year, suicide bombers killed more than 40 people in the Moscow subway and more than 150 in a series of attacks in the North Caucasus. The brutal tactics of the Russian military and its local proxies have only boosted support for the rebels.

Now the country's leaders are trying a new approach. The idea is to cultivate a different, more docile strain of Islam among Russia's estimated 20 million professed Muslims. To that end, the Kremlin is spending $300 million to open seven new Islamic universities in Russia and sponsoring hundreds of students to pursue advanced degrees in approved universities in Syria and Saudi Arabia. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has moved to boost the authority of accredited imams, affirming that they have "a special place" in Caucasian society and calling on them to help the Kremlin "confront terror through spirituality and high ethical standards." At the same time, the military is continuing its efforts to hunt down and kill rebels and radicals in the Caucasus.

At first glance, Kadyrov might seem to be the perfect tool for the Kremlin's needs. Russian leader Vladimir Putin (Kadyrov calls him "my idol") appointed him president of Chechnya in 2007, as soon as he became old enough to take the post legally. His brand of Islam is far from the Saudi-derived Wahhabism espoused by many of the Chechen rebels--and by Osama bin Laden. Instead it's an eclectic blend of Sufism (a traditionally pacifist, mystical branch of the Sunni sect) and ancient Chechen traditions like the zikr, an all-male hybrid of circle dance and prayer. His father, Ahmed Kadyrov, had been Chechnya's chief mufti (spiritual leader) when the tiny mountain republic tried to break Russia's grip in the 1990s, but he eventually reconciled with Moscow--and was assassinated in 2004. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Warlord Imam
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.