Tatarstan Spiritual Leader Injured in Car Blast

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The mufti of Russia’s Volga Republic of Tatarstan, Ildus Faizov, was injured when his car exploded in the republic’s capital Kazan on Thursday, the Russian Investigative Committee said.

The mufti of Russia’s Volga Republic of Tatarstan, Ildus Faizov, was injured when his car exploded in the republic’s capital Kazan on Thursday, the Russian Investigative Committee said.

“The shockwave threw him out of the car, he received injuries of varying degrees and was hospitalized,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

"According to preliminary data, there were three blasts in total," Markin added. "The type of the explosive device and its force are currently being established by specialists. They believe the explosive device was planted under the chassis of the car, near the passenger seat."

A spokesman for the republic’s interior ministry said Faizov, who suffered an ankle joint fracture during the blast, is currently being operated on.

The blast occurred hours after Faizov’s former deputy Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead near his house. The link between the two attacks and a possible connection to the two victims’ professional activities is being probed.

Both attacks occurred on the day before the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.

“It’s evident that these two crimes are directly linked and, most likely, they were performed by the same group. We are probing all versions, from professional activities to the involvement of so-called religious fanatics,” a security source in the republic said.

Mufti Albir Krganov, first deputy head of the Central Spiritual Board of Russian Muslims, called on all Russian Muslims to stay calm.

“I call on all believers to show restraint. Those monsters are trying to destroy our stability and peace, and [we need] to avoid giving in to provocations,” he said.

According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Caucasus separatist leader Doku Umarov ordered in 2011 that Tatarstan Muslims should be taught radical Islam and persuaded to join the jihad. Moderate scholars in Tatarstan have since had to counter the growing popularity of radical Islamists from the North Caucasus, most of whom are former militants.

Traditional Tatar theologist and former Mufti of Tatarstan, Farid Salman, said the attacks showed that the confrontation between radicalism and traditional Islam has intensified in the republic.

“The fight against clerics who oppose radicalism under the guise of Islam has begun,” he said.

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