A lawsuit was filed against publishing houses and readers of the collection in Tatarstan on grounds that the Risale-I Nur fostered religious and ethnic discrimination. The lawsuit was later dropped.
The Tatarstan attorney general’s office has applied to a court in Moscow.
The case, which alleges the collection discriminates between Muslims and non-Muslims, has sparked severe reaction among Muslims in the country. Co-chairman of the Council of Muftis in Russia Nafigullah Ashirov, Russian Islam University Chancellor Professor Refik Muhammedşin, Nor-Bedi President İbrahim İbragimov and Nor-Bedi lawyer Sergey Sıçev were planning to hold a press conference prior to Saturday’s trial.
Mufti Ashirov holds that censoring the collection would strike a blow against the Russian Federation’s prestige as well as violate freedom of speech and religion. “Banning this collection would only benefit ill-intended people. It will be the biggest gift to ill-intended people who want to use Islam for terrorism … such cases occurred during Stalin’s period. People were forced into exile or executed because of their writings. I don’t think anyone would like to return to that period,” Ashirov said.
An unfortunate event
Said Nursi’s books have been read throughout the world for 100 years and in Russia for the past 15 years. The books, which have been translated into Russian, are published and sold by the Nur-Bedi Association. Nur-Bedi President İbragimov argues that the Risale-i Nur supports world peace, tolerance and inter-religious dialogue. He described the lawsuit as very unfortunate.
The Nur Bedi Association, which was founded 15 years ago, applied to the Council of Muftis in Russia to sell the 14-volume book written by Said Nursi. Discussing the lawsuit, İbragimov said there must have been a misunderstanding. The state is not expected to approve such a ban and the lawsuit is seen as part of efforts to destroy Turkish-Russo relations, he said.
Lawyer Şıçev said the court is overlooking the European Court of Human Rights 10th article on freedom of thought. He believes the court is not following the correct procedure and poses the question as to which criteria the court is using to determine whether a book promotes criminal or deviant behavior. “It concerns us that the parties leading the case are ignorant about such an important and sensitive subject,” Şıçev said.
A concern for all Muslims
Noting that the number of allegations that the collection contains criminal material is decreasing, Şıçev said: “They put aside the claim that it [Risalei Nur] discriminates between extremists and religions and now they allege that it discriminates between believers and non-believers and belittles non-believers. The court will hold the next trial on May 21. The court is rushing to finalize the case. If the lawsuit is approved, we will file an appeal. If we don’t obtain a positive result from there, then we will apply to the European court.” Lawyer Şıçev said case not only affects the association but all Muslims in Russia as well.