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Friday, November 6, 2015

Russian Court Reverses Ruling Recognizing Parts of Qur’an as “Extremist”

“Russian court reverses ruling recognizing Muslim book as extremist,” RT.

A court in the Russian Far East has canceled the verdict that recognized an Islamic book with abstracts from the Koran as ‘extremist material’, which caused outrage from the Muslim community and some politicians.

On Thursday the Sakhalin Regional Court canceled the ruling of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinst City Court of August 12, 2015, which banned fragments of ‘Prayer to God’ as extremist material. The regional court also rejected the appeal of local prosecutors who insisted that the work should be banned.

The initial verdict brought critical comments from Russian Muslims because the banned parts were actually abstracts from the Koran. The head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, even demanded that the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk judge and prosecutors be brought to justice for insulting the holy book and thus inciting religious hatred.

Critics of the earlier decision expressed satisfaction over its reversal.

“This is a landmark ruling. This is a victory of the whole global community. In their statement prosecutors questioned the quotes from the Koran, but every Muslim says the words of a prayer at least 17 times. Does this make every Muslim an extremist 17 times a day?” No, just once a day, all day! Kadyrov’s representative Said-Magomed Chapanov said in comments to TASS. “Banning Suras from the Koran is like banning a Christian from reciting ‘The Lord’s Prayer’,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin drafted a set of amendments to the 2002 Law on Countering Terrorism that classify all holy books and sacred texts from Russia’s four established religions as exempt from any probes for extremism.

“Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism are an inseparable part of the historic legacy of the peoples who inhabit Russia. Thus the Bible, Koran, Tanakh and Kangyur, their contents and their quotes cannot be classed as extremist materials,” reads the explanatory note attached to the bill….

It’s unclear which portions of the Qur’an came under the ruling, although Said-Magomed Chapanov’s saying that “every Muslim says the words of a prayer at least 17 times” suggests that it was the Fatihah, the first sura of the Qur’an, which pious Muslims who pray the five daily prayers will repeat seventeen times daily. In it, Muslims pray, “Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom you have bestowed favor, not of those who have earned anger or of those who have gone astray.” Islamic tradition often identifies those who have earned anger with the Jews and those who have gone astray with the Christians.

Chapanov adds, “Does this make every Muslim an extremist 17 times a day? Banning Suras from the Koran is like banning a Christian from reciting ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’” The Fatihah is indeed roughly comparable to the Lord’s Prayer in Christianity, but the Lord’s Prayer isn’t widely understood by Christians as condemning believers in two other religions. Also, Chapanov isn’t speaking just of the Fatihah; he compares “Suras from the Koran” to the Lord’s Prayer, but the Lord’s Prayer contains no exhortation to “slay them wherever you find them” (9:5; cf. 2:191 and 4:89), or to beat disobedient women (4:34), or to make war against and subjugate Jews and Christians (9:5), or to behead unbelievers (47:4), or to take sex slaves from Infidel women (4:3, 4:24, 23:1-6, 33:50), and so on and on.

Whether or not Russia or the Sakhalin Regional Court decides to classify the Qur’an or parts of it as “extremist,” there needs to be an honest public discussion of the nature of the Qur’an, without glib wave-of-the-hand dismissals with “The Bible is violent, too,” and serious strategizing about what can and should be done about the Qur’an’s capacity to incite violence. But that is not forthcoming, in Russia or anywhere else.