Ingush Supreme Court ruled to eliminate Muftiate

20 September 2019
Worshipers inside the Nazran Central Mosque (Photograph: Ingushetia.ru)

The Supreme Court of the Russian Republic of Ingushetia has ordered the liquidation of the Spiritual Center of Muslims of Ingushetia — the muftiate. Monday’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit from the republic’s Ministry of Justice.

The muftiates are traditional representative bodies of Muslims in the North Caucasus.

Deputy Mufti of Ingushetia, Adsalam Dolgiyev, told OC Media that the Muftiate intended to appeal the decision.

He said that the organisation being struck off the register of legal entities would not affect their work. ‘We are all at work, our imams are at work. All scheduled meetings and planned events are being held as usual.’

‘The Muftiate, as a public and spiritual organisation in the republic, has always worked.’

‘Our people have never lived without religious leadership’, Dolgiyev said.

According to him, the Muftiate was registered as a legal entity in 1993, and this was ‘a formality necessary at that time’.

Dolgiyev said that he was sure that the elimination of the Muftiate was ‘a whim and deliberate action by the former leadership of the region’.

‘It didn’t start today, it’s a long-standing problem’, he added.

‘According to Russian law, religion is separated from the state, but the state intervenes in the affairs of religion. It all started with the former head of the republic removing those he didn’t want, and  appointing those he wanted.’

Dolgiyev said that the former head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, regularly expressed dissatisfaction at dissent from the former mufti.

‘Liquidated for formal reasons’

Gapur Akhriyev, a lawyer who represented the muftiate in court, told OC Media that the court did not rule against the muftiate for their spiritual teachings, but for administrative reasons.

‘Any legal entity, according to the law, has certain obligations, including the substantive part of the statute’, Akhriyev said.

According to him, the muftiate received warnings from the Ministry of Justice about violations. 

For example, he said that transactions that an organisation made must be agreed with a body determined in their statute, but that this obligatory clause was absent in the statute of the muftiate.

‘The organisation expressed its willingness to correct the faults and even partially did, so there were no grounds for such a court decision. In any case, the court’s decision did not [yet] enter into legal force’, he said.

‘We believed that the small violations identified could well be eliminated without annulating the legal person’, he added.

Long-lasting conflict

A conflict between the leadership of Ingushetia and the Muftiate of the republic has been going on for several years.

In 2016, Yevkurov tried to remove Isa Khamkhoyev, who was then the Mufti of Ingushetia, and shut down the Muftiate, but the Supreme Court of Ingushetia blocked the move.

In May 2018, the Muftiate openly claimed that local authorities and Yevkurov personally were oppressing them.

They excommunicated Yevkurov from the community, citing his attempt to liquidate the Muftiate and suspicion that Yevkurov might have appropriated money intended for the construction of a mosque in Magas.

Khamkhoyev left his post only after Yevkurov stepped down as head of the republic in June.

In July, Abdurakhman Martazanov was chosen as the new mufti of Ingushetia.

A former official at Ingushetia’s justice ministry told OC Media that Yevkurov ‘used his influence to get even with his long-standing enemy’. He also said that, other prominent Ingush public organisations would likely soon be subjected to persecution.

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