In a heavy-handed crackdown on Islamic extremism similar to those which have inflamed tensions in Uzbekistan, Dagestan has forbidden the sale or distribution of Russian translations of the Qur’an. Since the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the Caucasus do not read or speak Arabic, the prohibition will mean real hardship for pious Muslims who have no political agenda but simply want to deepen their understanding of their own religious tradition. According to an article published by the Gzt.ru website on May 24, the new was decree issued by the country’s Muslim religious authorities, but it is being enforced by the secular government. The decree also forbids the sale of religious audio or videocassettes without prior approval of the authorities. Ravil Gainutdin, the leading Muslim cleric in Moscow, vigorously criticized the Dagestan decree.
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