Banned book searches targeting Muslim Tatars in Crimea

Latvia's foreign minister Edgar Rinkevics said that the treatment of Crimean Tatars by Russian authorities in the peninsula is "in essence ethnic cleansing."

Banned book searches targeting Muslim Tatars in Crimea

World Bulletin / News Desk

Russian authorities in the annexed peninsula of Crimea have requested to inspect the funds of Crimean Tatar and Turkish departments of the Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University for banned literature.

The inspect is part of an ongoing region-wide operation targeting Crimean Tatar Muslims in search of a number of Islamic religious books that under Ukrainian law were legal but were later outlawed by the Russian authorities after the annexation of Crimea.

The Federal List of Extremist Materials was compiled by the Russian Ministry of Justice on July 14, 2007 and contained 1,058 items as of December 25, 2011. Producing, storing or distributing the materials on the list is an offense in Russia.

Islamic books that have been banned include the work of popular 20th century Turkish scholar Said Nursi and the famous 'Fortress of the Muslim' book of supplications of the Prophet Muhammad, which was collected by ancient Muslim scholar Saeed bin Ali bin Wahf Al-Qahtani. A certain biography of the Prophet Muhammad is also banned.

Around 300,000 Muslims in Crimea, mainly native Crimean Tatars, are having to adjust to new laws enforced by Russia after their homeland was annexed from Ukraine following a referendum in March.

According to Qirim News Agency, Latvia's foreign minister Edgar Rinkevics accused Russia of gross human rights abuses in Crimea, adding that the treatment of Crimean Tatars by Russian authorities in the peninsula is "in essence ethnic cleansing."

“It is the lack of decisive action on the part of organizations such as the OSCE and the Council of Europe that is evident here. We must not forget about this particular problem,” said Rinkevics in a statement, referring to recent cases of searches in Muslims homes all over Crimea.

CRIMEAN TATARS 'TARGETED'

Since the annexation in March, around 3,000 Crimean Tatars have left the peninsula for mainland Ukraine.

The U.N. has also pointed to the erosion of human rights in Crimea, which remains under the occupation of pro-Russian militias who particularly threaten the Crimean Tatars.

Crimean Tatars have complained that they have been targeted for speaking their Turkic language in public and have had their homes marked by pro-Russian militiamen.

The Crimean Tatar Mejlis (Parliament) was also threatened with closure after they organized protests for former Mejlis head Mustafa Jemilev, who has been barred from entering the peninsula for five years along with current leader Refat Chubarov.

Earlier this month, Qirim News Agency general coordinator Ismet Yuksel was also given the same five-year ban.

The Crimean Tatars have largely opposed the annexation of Crimea by Russia, fearing a repeat of the events of 1944 when they were completely expelled as part of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's policy.

They gradually started returning in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union, but still live as a minority in their homeland as they were displaced by ethnic Russian settlers who migrated there later on.

Since the annexation, Russia has been granting Russian citizenship to the people of Crimea in replacement of their Ukrainian nationality. Crimean Tatars, who have campaigned to reject Russian citizenship, reserve the right to remain as Ukrainian citizens, but will by default become foreigners in their homeland.

Last Mod: 13 Eylül 2014, 18:05
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