Melanie Stetson Freeman The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition In late September, a court in the southern Russian city of Novorossiisk banned a translation of the Quran by Azeri theologian Elmir Kuliyev which the court said promoted extremism. The ruling called for the Kuliyev translation to be banned and copies of it destroyed. Among the courts complaints are that Kuliyevs translation contained statements about the superiority of Muslims over non-Muslims, negative evaluations of persons who have nothing to do with the Muslim religion, and positive evaluations of hostile actions by Muslims against non-Muslims. 25 banned books that may surprise you With that ruling, that edition of Islams holy book joins some 2,000 publications banned over the last decade in Russia, reflecting a concerning movement toward state-sanctioned censorship in that former socialist state. Not surprisingly, the move angered Muslims across the world, including in Russia, where they comprise a significant minority (about 15 percent of the population). “Russian Muslims are very strongly indignant over such anoutrageous decision,” Rushan Abbyasov, deputy head ofRussias Council of Muftis, an Islamic organization with ties to the Kremlin, told the Moscow Times . A lawyer representing Kuliyev called the move pure idiocy, while Akhmed Yarlikapov, an expert on Islam with the Russian Academy of Sciences, said, This is one step away from banning the [entire] Quran….You could ban the Bible just as easily because it also has passages that talk about the spilling of blood. In an open letter to President Vladmir Putin, Russias Council of Muftis reminded the leader of the repercussions of past decisions to ban or destroy the Quran, including by American pastor Terry Jones , who threatened toburn theQuran onSept. 11, 2010. Is it necessary todiscuss how thedestruction ofbooks, especially sacred religious books, has been received inRussia inthe past? it read. We recall how theburning ofjust afew copies ofthe Holy Koran bya crazy American pastor elicited afirm protest not just fromRussian Muslims but fromour entire society, insolidarity with thestormy andlong-lasting anger ofthe global Muslim community andall people ofgoodwill. As the UKs Guardian notes, the ban is curious, given the countrys large Muslim minority. The ban is baffling, as the Russian authorities have little to gain by antagonising 15% of the population, including huge chunks of the republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, never mind the restive republics of the Caucasus, it writes. Nonetheless, this isnt the first religious text to be banned by Russia. Since passing the 2002 law On Counteracting Extremist Activity, the country has blacklisted more than 2,000 publications, including all works by Nazis and fascists, as well as ultranationalist, anti-Semitic, and jihadist texts, according to the Guardian . Also banned is Mussolinis autobiography, the works of Scientology founder Ron L. Hubbard, more than 60 classic Islamic religious texts, and even religious texts of Jehovahs Witnesses. (Apparently the Hindu religious text the Bhagavad Ghita narrowly escaped the ban.) If thats not arbitrary enough, consider this. Among the texts not on the blacklist are those by and celebrating the communist leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin, under whose rule hundreds of thousands of people were imprisoned in labor camps, deported, and executed. We suppose that goes to show there is rarely rhyme or reason to book bans.
Greenpeace to Target Gazprom as Russia Says Drugs Seized on Ship
Investigators also accused some campaigners of trying to ram a Russian Coast Guard craft, endangering the lives of officials. The suspects are being identified, the Investigative Committee said in a website statement today. The detention of 28 activists and two journalists from 18 countries, who are facing as long as 15 years in jail for alleged piracy during an Arctic protest, has provoked a diplomatic row as the Netherlands seeks to force Russia to release the Dutch-registered Arctic Sunrise and its crew, detained after two Greenpeace protesters scaled natural gas exporter Gazprom (GAZP) s Prirazlomnoye oil rig in the Pechora Sea. We are not picking a fight with the Russian government, our focus is Gazprom, Greenpeace Internationals executive director Kumi Naidoo, said in a phone interview from Amsterdam today. We are looking at where Gazprom operates, in Europe in particular. We are trying to understand its points of vulnerability. We think that consumers of Gazprom gas in Europe will be appalled by what the company is doing in the Arctic. Greenpeace denied in separate statements that the ship was carrying drugs and said the accusation that campaigners tried to ram a boat carrying border guards is a fantasy. New charges will obviously be brought against some of the activists, Russias Investigative Committee said, without giving details. Targeting Gazprom Greenpeace is planning to target Gazprom and European companies buying its natural gas to secure the activists release, according to Naidoo. The group is considering a consumer campaign against the state-run Russian company, which supplies about a quarter of the European Unions gas, he said. Gazprom, Russias largest company, plans to become the first Russian explorer to start producing oil in the Arctic offshore as soon as this year. Greenpeace activists scaled the same drilling platform in 2012. This confirms that their goal is not to protect the environment but to attract attention, Sergei Kupriyanov , a spokesman for Moscow-based Gazprom, said by phone. The activists were detained not by Gazprom but by state investigative bodies and our European clients have absolutely nothing to do with it. 30 Countries Greenpeace campaigners earlier this month occupied gasoline stations in Germany operated by Gazprom.
In Russia, 110 people own 35% of the country’s wealth, the report says. (Credit Suisse) Also By Ricardo Lopez October 9, 2013, 8:12 a.m. Global wealth levels have set records, but in Russia, the explosion in wealth has given way to the highest income inequality level, a new report showed. In Russia, just 110 people own 35% of the country’s wealth, according to a report released Wednesday by Credit Suisse. The country (population 139 million) has the highest wealth inequality in the world, save for a few Caribbean islands, the report said. To put that into context: Worldwide, there is 1 billionaire for every $170 billion in household wealth. In Russia, there is 1 billionaire for every $11 billion, the report said. Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report also found that since 2000, household wealth around the world has more than doubled, reaching a high of $241 trillion. Strong economic growth and rising population levels in the last 13 years are major reasons for the trend.Average wealth per adult is now at $51,600. The richest countries include Switzerland, Australia, Luxembourg and the United States. In the U.S., wealth levels have fully recovered, the report said. Americans account for 42% of the world’s billionaires. ALSO:
Russia ‘finds drugs’ on Greenpeace ship, new charges loom
“Taking into consideration the data received in the course of the investigation of the criminal case, the charge already filed against everyone is set to be adjusted,” the Investigative Committee said. “It’s obvious to the investigation that a number of individuals will be charged with committing other grave crimes,” it said. The “narcotic substances” confiscated during the search are “presumably poppy straw and morphine,” investigators said. Poppy straw is used to produce opium. Painkiller morphine is subject to strict rules in Russia on how it must be stored by medics. ‘Nothing illegal was on the ship’ “Any claim that something other than medical supplies was found should be regarded with great suspicion,” Greenpeace said, adding the ship was searched with a sniffer dog in Norway. “Nothing was found because nothing illegal was on the ship.” The group added the vessel had stored “certain medical supplies” in a safe to which only the captain and the doctor had access. “The safe was broken into by the Russian authorities during the searching of the ship.” A Moscow-based Greenpeace representative, Mikhail Kreindlin, said the vessel had been without the crew for two weeks. “In these circumstances a nuclear bomb could have been found there.” The group also said the claims over boat ramming were a “fantasy.” Last week, investigators charged the ship’s 30 activists from 18 countries including a freelance photojournalist with piracy which carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison. The activists were last month placed in pre-trial detention for two months. Earlier Wednesday, Greenpeace chief Kumi Naidoo asked for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, saying he was willing to travel to Russia and offer himself as “security” to win the activists’ release. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin was aware the letter was delivered to the Russian embassy in the Hague but said such a meeting was not being considered now. Putin has said the activists “of course are not pirates” but his spokesman later said the president had expressed his personal opinion. The unusually harsh charges prompted protest rallies around the world over the weekend, with celebrities like actor Jude Law and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood joining in.