Russian Muslim groups take opposite sides on holy war against the United States

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) A Russian Muslim group branded the head of a rival Islamic organization a false prophet'' for declaring jihad, or holy war, against the United States.

Supreme Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin, who heads the Central Islamic Department of Muslims of Holy Russia, announced the jihad at an anti-war demonstration April 3, saying his group would raise money to buy weapons for fighting America.''

A meeting of Ravil Gainutdin's Council of Russian Muftis, which rivals Tadzhuddin's group, passed a fatwah or religious edict condemning Tadzhuddin.

On behalf of the council, Gainutdin said Monday that Tadzhuddin has taken himself out of the bosom of Islam,'' and the jihad call carries neither clerical nor legal nor moral force'' and must not be followed.

Gainutdin said his group is followed by about 65 percent of the nation's 20 million Muslims and Tadzhuddin represents 15 percent. The others come under an independent Muslim authority in the Caucasus.

Tadzhuddin's call was condemned by many Islamic leaders throughout Russia but supported by clerics in southern Dagestan, which borders Chechnya.

The Russian Prosecutor General's office warned Tadzhuddin that his statement violated federal law forbidding actions that incite religious hatred and said he would be prosecuted if he repeated the offense.

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