2005-09-23 11:11:00

Islamists are not at all interested in the existence of such channels as Al Jazeera or generally in such structures in the Islamic world

The dismissal of Akram Huzam as chief of the Al Jazeera Moscow office has been unexpected for many including major Moslem organizations in Russia. Meanwhile, some Islamic leaders from among radicals did not conceal their exultation over this decision of the channel’s leadership. Mikhail Leontyev, a popular TV observer, tried to interpret their attitude in an interview to Interfax-Religion web site.

- What do you think about Geidar Jemal’s statements that Akram Huzam’s dismissal as chief of the Al Jazeera Moscow office is a ‘great victory for the Moslem community in Russia’ and that it is to be credited partly to the Islamic Committee which ‘waged a tough struggle’ with Huzam’s allegedly destructive activity in this office?

- I have profound respect for Geidar Jemal as a very consistent and profound representative of a certain religious public trend. In my view, he is a real Islamic fundamentalist. And what surprises me in his attitude is certain impudence, because whatever he has done recently, including his statements concerning Akram, is an attempt to prohibit the rest from doing what he himself is doing day and might. It concerns the notorious protests against various books and the pressure, as he himself admitted, he has exerted on Al Jazeera.

As for Al Jazeera, this TV channel has sought, not unsuccessfully I believe, to prove that it is possible to be utterly tolerant within an Arab Islamic channel and to be objective as much as it is possible at all. In this sense, Akram was a figure absolutely adequate to these tasks. Moreover, he has played an important role from the perspective of mutual understanding and inter-confessional dialogue on all levels both as a personality and professional.

I believe Islamists are not at all interested in the existence of such channels as Al Jazeera and generally in such structures in the Islamic world. In this sense, I believe it was perfectly silly for the channel to have really listened to their opinion, because it was pressure from adversaries who make it their aim to eradicate it altogether.

In my view, the opportunity of a certain part of Russian society to impose such diktat is absolutely unacceptable. It is generally a fairly indicative attempt to arrange in Russia a reservation for one’s own or for those whom they have registered as their own. They should not get away with this trick, as it is a typical example of double morality: these are people who keep talking about the need for tolerance, insisting that religious rights are violated and anti-Islamic strife is fanned up, and who appeal to the right for political correctness. But within the territory they claim to be their own, they do not allow of any sign of political correctness or tolerance. Within Russia there are Russian rules ooperating, equal for all, and nobody has the right to exert pressure on any foreign or domestic channel with the aim to establish Islamic rules on it. When I speak about Islamists I mean those who believe that Islam, fundamental Islam, is the only right and possible form of thought, law and state system and who make it their aim in the end to extend this system to the whole world.

When I am accused of enkindling ethnic strife by presenting The Mosque of Notre Dame of Paris by Elena Chudinova, it is an attempt by Geidar Jemal to deny me the right to be a Christian fundamentalist. But on what grounds? These arguments appear utterly illogic and inconsistent. Akram’s story speaks of the fact that they have grown somewhat impudent, because they will first line up their own and then line up us.

The fact of pressure is a fact of life of an Islamic umma wherever it may be. There are fundamental trends running within it, which make it their aim to impose primarily their own understanding of what they believe.