Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, chairman of Russia's Mufti Council, and Viktor Zorkaltsev, chairman of the committee for affairs of public associations and religious organizations in the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) discussed the problem of Wahhabism at a meeting-cum-seminar in Moscow Tuesday. Zorkaltsev said that "in the current situation, some specifications are necessary to the law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations." For example, the residents of Daghestan (a republic in the North Caucasus) came out with the initiative that Wahhabism be recognized as an extremist religious trend with all the ensuing consequences. In Zorkaltsev's opinion, "that problem requires a thorough and immediate examination." He said that a working group had been set up, "which already visited Chechnya and examined the problem on the spot." Gainutdin stressed that the Mufti Council of Russia "unanimously censures banditism and terrorism in whatever form, no matter under what names these phenomena are disguised. This also applies to bandits who call themselves "Wahhabites". The Sheikh noted that "their actions contradict Islam, a religion that is against all forms of violence." A statement by the Mufti Council of Russia on the problem of Wahhabism was distributed at the meeting. It notes that among those who call themselves followers of Wahhabism are not only terrorists, but also some peaceful residents. The Council stresses that "further increase in the number of Wahhabites in Russia might lead to a split in traditional Islam." That is why the muftis of Russia are carrying on extensive explanatory work against any strengthening of the positions of Wahhabites.
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