Muslims of Tatarstan hold picket against mass arrests following attack on muftis

Around 100 people attended a picket in Kazan on Sunday, protesting against what they called mass arrests as part of an inquiry into an attack on a Tatarstan mufti and a murder of the head of the training department of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan, an Interfax correspondent reported from the scene.

The picket, which took place at the square in front of the Tatar Kamal State Theater, was permitted by the city authorities. It was organized by the Azatlyk (Freedom) Union of Tatar Youth, as well as by the senior clergy and parishioners of the Al-Ikhlas (Sincerity) mosque in Kazan. The protestors, mainly young men, were wearing skull caps, women were wearing hijabs (a Muslim veil which leaves only face and hands uncovered). Some came with their children.

The protestors were holding flags of Tatarstan, flags with Islamic symbols and over 20 placards which read: "A faithful Muslim is against extremism and terrorism," "We shall not allow a second Caucasus," "Shapeshifters in epaulettes imitate fight against terrorism," "Minnikhanov, protect the Muslims," "We demand release of innocent Muslims." The people want to express their protest and extreme discontent with mass arrests and searches among the Muslims in Tatarstan, the Azatlyk leader told Interfax. "Law enforcement authorities must stop their axe job. The 'catch-one-and-all' principle is causing even greater distrust towards police among the population.

The investigation should be conducted more thoroughly, these pointless searches among Muslims should stop," he said. During the picket its participants unanimously adopted an open letter to Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, which says in particular that, according to the organizers, "between 400 and 600 people were arrested, 200 people had their homes searched, most of them at night. Religious books and computers were seized."

This humiliates Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan, the authors said. "Innocent people and their families suffer," the letter said. Those arrested are held in poor conditions and have no possibility to observe uraza (the fasting during the month of Ramadan).

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