Moscow, November 19, 2012
"Representatives of Russia's traditional religions are expressing concerns about the recent attacks against spiritual leaders and the slander campaigns against them," the Russian Interreligious Council said in a statement issued in Moscow on Monday.
The authors of the document, which was provided to Interfax-Religion, said 13 spiritual leaders of traditional Islam and their supporters, including prominent theologians Valiulla Yapukov and Said Chirkeisky, have died at the hands of terrorists in the Northern Caucasus since the beginning of this year.
"Muslim leaders have been terrorists' targets before, but their terrorism has reached unprecedented scales this year. This threatening situation is not an internal religious affair and is directly related to the national security of our country because terrorists are killing those spiritual leaders who are defending the ideas of peaceful co-existence of peoples and religions the most consistently," the document says.
The authors of the document believe the state should take effective measures to protect such spiritual leaders "by focusing on active prevention of terrorist attacks, not passive defense."
The Interreligious Council has praised the joint initiative of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian authorities to give state awards to the spiritual leaders hurt in terrorist attacks.
The council also said there have been "slander campaigns" aimed against the Russian Orthodox Church and the leading Muslim organizations for the past few months.
The council believes these attacks appear to be "interconnected and aimed at discrediting the leading traditional religion of Russia to undermine its internal stability."
In this regard, the council called on the authorities to take measures to locate the people who order such campaigns and asked the mass media "to be selective and reasonable when reporting on religious issues."
The document was signed by Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin (the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations between the church and society), Albir Krganov (mufti of Moscow), Alexander Boroda (president of the Russian Federation of Jewish Communities), Adolf Shayevich (chief rabbi of the Congress of Religious Organizations and Associations), Shafig Pshikhachev (permanent envoy of the Northern Caucasus Muslim Board in Moscow), Kharis Saubyanov (deputy head of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of the European Part of Russia), Zinovy Kogan (head of the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and Associations).