Oleg Orlov: "In more and more cases, we are seeing that Russian investigators and courts regard criticism of the authorities as extremism or even as incitement to acts of terrorism"

posted 3 Nov 2016, 13:13 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 3 Nov 2016, 14:09 ]
"In more and more cases, we are seeing that Russian investigators and courts regard criticism of the authorities as extremism or even as incitement to acts of terrorism. This is nothing more or less than political repression, and the case of Magomednabi Magomedov is a good example of this trend. The Imam did indeed severely criticise the authorities and police officials for their attempts to close down mosques in one of his Friday sermons, but his words were in no sense a justification of terrorism. He also referred to the fact that the Communists had previously also closed down mosques and that Allah had punished the godless regime which no longer existed. Is this really a justification of terrorism or an incitement to enmity? Is it really the case that merely pointing out the criminal and godless nature of the Communist regime is now a criminally punishable act in our country?! Magomednabi Magomedov was in fact sentenced as a result of the fact that he led a non-violent protest against the anti-constitutional persecution of people on the grounds of religious belief. This decision by the authorities makes no sense at all. The convicted Imam has consistently and publicly condemned violence, and criticised young Muslims for 'taking to the forest' or travelling to the Middle East. At the same time as protesting against the closure of mosques, he called for constructive dialogue with the representatives of the authorities, and had himself participated in talks of this kind. Yet apparently the security forces and the civil service are dominated by people who can only work in terms of extremes and within a paradigm of state terror. Their habitual and preferred approach is confrontation and the suppression of any kind of dissent, whether civil or religious. The very idea of constructive dialogue between the authorities and society is beyond the pale for them. The consequence of this is that mosques are closed down, crowds of worshippers are detained for arbitrary reasons after Friday prayers and imams are sentenced on trumped-up charges".

- Oleg Orlov, head of the 'Hot Spots' programme at Memorial Human Rights Centre

Source:
'On the trial and conviction of Magomednabi Magomedov,' HRO.org in English, 26 October 2016 [translation by Joanne Reynolds]
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