A Muslim lawyer has called for the introduction of sharia courts in Russia, threatening a “bloodbath” if the demand is opposed.
Chechen Dagir Khasavov, the founder of an organisation that defends the rights of Muslims, said in an interview broadcast on 24 April by the independent channel Ren-TV:
Muslims do not want to get involved in the multi-layered court system, it is alien to them. You think that we come here to Russia like to some alien place. But we think that we are at home. Maybe you are alien, and we are at home. And we will set the rules, the rules that suit us, whether you want it or not. Any attempts to change it will end in blood, it will be the second Dead Sea. We will flood the city with blood.
The statement provoked a backlash in Russia, and Khasavov fled the country after receiving death threats. The Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation after experts from The Russian Institute of Culture found that the speech was aimed at exciting hatred and animosity based on religion, and could be considered a call for extremist activity.
Khasavov’s call for sharia courts in Russia was rejected outright by Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the country’s Presidential Human Rights Council.
He said on 25 April:
The creation of parallel justice systems is impossible in a modern law-governed state. It undermines the foundation of the justice system.
Attempts to force sharia courts on people are only possible in theocratic states.
Mr Fedotov said that the only way sharia courts could be created in Russia was to give them a role in arbitration hearings.
In 2008, the British government acknowledged that it had for some time accepted the role of sharia tribunals in arbitration, in certain limited fields. Opponents fear a slippery slope effect; that the acceptance of certain aspects of Islamic civil law could eventually lead to the introduction of full-blown sharia.
Khasavov has subsequently claimed that his words were distorted and said that he was referring only to inter-family cases, not criminal law. His son believes Khasavov was provoked, possibly by Chechen authorities