Friday, December 17, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Daghestanis Seek Amnesty for Militants, Repeal of Anti-Wahhabism Law

Paul Goble

Staunton, December 17 – The Congress of Peoples of Daghestan this week agreed to republic President Magomedsalam Magomedov’s proposal to appeal to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to grant amnesty to militants who have fought against the powers that be in that North Caucasus republic.
Other speakers urged that the republic repeal the 1999 republic law banning Wahhabism in Daghestan and that officials and public figures meet with their opponents on a regular basis in order to reverse the trend toward the intensification of ethnic, religious and political conflicts there (
But participants in the ever more active Daghestani blogosphere have expressed skepticism that these measures are anything but a public relations effort by the powers that be and have suggested that more radical measures will be needed if peace is ever to return to Daghestan, including enlisting the help of Muslim leaders from abroad.
On Wednesday, President Magomedov told the opening session of the Congress of Peoples of Daghestan, a quasi-official meeting his subordinates had helped to organize, that over the last ten years, “more than a thousand residents” of Daghestan had died in armed conflicts, including 120 in the last four months alone.
In order to overcome these divisions, he said, the Congress should adopt an appeal to Medvedev calling on him to amnesty militants who have not engaged in “terrorist” violence, a step that he and other North Caucasian leaders have urged before and one that the Congress agreed to take (
The meeting featured other proposals. Gadzhi Makhachev, the permanent representative of the republic to the Russian president, called for the repeal of the 1999 law banning Wahhabism because it was adopted too quickly and “does not correspond to federal legislation.” In addition, he urged dropping the use of the term supporter of militants as unnecessarily broad.
“Whoever comes into your home,” he pointed out, “even if he is an enemy, your obligation is to receive him because he is a guest.”
Another speaker, Dzhabrail Khachilayev, the head of the Daghestani section of the Russian Committee for the Defense of Peace, called for more frequent meetings of bodies like the Congress and for intense preparation of them so that the sessions will have a real chance to overcome divisions within society and so all peoples in the republic can have a chance to speak..
But if participants in the Congress took a generally optimistic stance, leading Daghestani bloggers, an increasingly important barometer of opinion in that republic, were almost exclusively pessimistic that this meeting or any meeting like it would have any positive effects, even if its appeals were heeded.
Luiza Dibirova, one of Daghestan’s leading female bloggers, said that the constant praise at the meeting for the republic’s leadership showed that this session was basically a farce. Sulayman Uladiyev was “almost the only person [there] who spoke about the real situation and proposed solutions.”
“There is no sense to call on ‘the forest brothers’ to return home,” she said, “if we will not change that which drove them there in the first place” such as “the completely corrupt policy of the republic.” And she suggested that only by assembling a meeting of alims from “all the Arab countries” could Makhachkala hope to be listened to by the militants.
Another Daghestani blogger, zakir_5535 concluded bitterly that “the congress was needed by the ruling regime only to ‘legalize’ within a narrow circle a decision about the formation of republic battalions for war with the opposition … There is no sense in expecting anything good from [this meeting].’

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