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MUSLIM ANTI-TERROR LEAGUE OFFERS ALTERNATIVE TO WAHHABISM

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MOSCOW, April 20 (RIA Novosti's Olga Lipich) - The Hak (Justice), a public organization to protect Muslim and non-Muslim Russians alike from extremism and terrorism, is willing to come up with an explicit ideological alternative to Wahhabism, a Novosti news conference heard today from Kamilzhan Kalandarov, Hak leader, and Mufti Shafig Pshikhachev, North Caucasian Muslim Coordination Center Vice-President.

"A clear-cut alternative to Wahhabism is what we need to repulse terror. We are ready to join hands with spiritual leaders and foremost Oriental scholars, and all together elaborate a desired ideology. It is up to us Muslims to be in the vanguard of efforts against terrorism and extremism," said Mr. Kalandarov.

"We are to work out a style of communication, and a style in which we are to present Islam to the Russian public. That is to be a manner everyone will understand. At the same time, it is to fully retain the sacred purport of pivotal Muslim values," pointed out Mufti Pshikhachev.

"The late 1990s saw a peak of Wahhabi euphoria. We are past it now," he reassured. That was a time when extremist ideas penetrated Russia from other countries to become popular as young people always fall in for new things. Wahhabism also owed its appeal to the hard times Russia was through then, with sweeping social and economic reforms, remarked the Mufti.

Wahhabism survives in Russia to this day. The Mufti explains its viability mainly by Russia having no efficient arrangements to bring up young people in a patriotic spirit. Social and economic problems are of no smaller importance in that context-suffice it to mention alarming youth unemployment rates.

First Muslim communities appeared in the vicinity of Derbent, Daghestan, as early as the 8th century. "Ever since then, Islam was evolving in Russia in its traditional form-that is, by incorporating local ways and customs instead of clashing with them," Mufti Pshikhachev said with emphasis.

Established December last, with a present-day membership of 5,000, the Hak has two aspects of its activism-religion and human rights protection.

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