CAIRO – Quieting fears about Muslim freedoms in the Russian federation, a Russian regional court has withdrawn an earlier ban on Qur’an translation, a decision cheered by Islamic organizations and scholars.
“We were expecting the ruling to be overturned,” said Rushan Abbyasov, the deputy head of the Council of Muftis of Russia, told Moscow Times on Wednesday, December 18.
“We actively participated in the appeals process, and our theologians demonstrated that Kuliyev's translation was in no way extremist.
“The district court was incompetent, making a decision solely to foment a popular reaction, and the regional court realized that.”
On Tuesday, the Krasnodar Regional Court overturned a September ruling by a court in Novorossiysk, a city in southern Russia, to ban the widely read translation of the noble Qur’an by Azeri theologian Elmir Kuliyev.
The Novorossiysk court’s decision was based on article 282 of the Criminal Code for the "incitement of national, racial, or religious enmity."
The ruling was appealed by the lawyer of Azeri theologian Elmir Kuliyev, who wrote the translation.
Muslim leaders had warned that if the ban of the Quran translation was not overturned, many of Russia's 15 million Muslims would take to the streets in protest.
Since Russia's anti-extremism law was passed in 2002, with the purpose of curbing potential militant threats, over 2,000 publications have been placed on a blacklist posted on the Justice Ministry's website.
The inclusion of some texts, such as the Russian edition of the diaries of Nazi Germany's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf", has won praise from human rights campaigners.
But critics say too many innocuous works have been added, threatening the rights of minority groups.
Once a court anywhere in Russia judges a text extremist, it is automatically added to the nationwide blacklist.
Political analyst Alexander Verkhovsky confirmed that the district court that originally ruled to ban Kuliyev's translation of the Quran did not abide by the highest legal standards.
"I do not see why they wanted to ban this particular version of the Quran," said Alexander Verkhovsky, director of the Moscow-based SOVA Center for Information and Analysis.
"The decision was made by a low-level court with doubtful competencies."
Analysts say the abuse stems from vague wording in the law and procedures that empower local officials in a flawed justice system.
A similar ban in June 2012 included the ban of 65 Islamic books which were deemed extremist literature by the court.
The list of these books includes such famous titles like Riyadh as-Salihin and Forty Hadiths of Imam an-Nawawi, Prophetic Seerah of Ibn Hisham and al-Mubarakfury, Fortress of the Muslim by al-Qahtani, Criterion of Action of Imam al-Ghazali, and History of Prophets from Adam to Muhammad.
Moreover, this list includes books of Turkish thinkers such as Said Nursi, Fethullah Gulen, Osman Nuri Topbash, Omer Chelika, Mustapha Ozturk, and even modern post-Soviet Muslim authors like the book of the most popular Moscow Imam Shamil Alyautdinov “The Path to Faith and Perfection” and Azerbaijan translator of Quran Elmir Kuliev’s “On the Way to Quran.”
The Russian Federation is home to some 23 million Muslims in the north of the Caucasus and southern republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Islam is Russia's second-largest religion representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million predominantly Orthodox population.
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