Russian Muslim leader killed in attack

Updated 20 July 2012
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Russian Muslim leader killed in attack

KAZAN, Russia: The Islamic leader of Russia’s main Muslim region of Tatarstan was wounded yesterday and another cleric killed in rare attacks in an oil-rich republic often praised for its religious tolerance.
The mufti of Tatarstan, Ildus Faizov, was wounded in a car explosion while his former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, was shot dead in the strikes an hour apart as Muslims prepared to begin observing Ramadan at sundown.
Investigators opened a murder case while the region’s leader linked the attacks in Tatarstan’s main city of Kazan to the clerics’ work to promote moderate Islam.
“Our leaders have followed the policy of traditional Islam. It is clear that there are other movements, and what happened today is a clear challenge,” said the presdient of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, pledging a firm response to radicals.
Russia’s top Muslim cleric Ravil Gainutdin said that those behind the attacks were seeking to place a bomb under the foundation of “peace and order of the entire Russian Federation.”
“I have to admit that a wave of violence has come to the Volga region too,” he said.
The oil-producing region on the Volga River is touted by authorities as an example of peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians, in contrast to the troubled North Caucasus, where the Kremlin fought two wars against separatists in the past 20 years.
But over the past few years officials have sounded the alarm about radical Islam spreading to a region where secessionist sentiments ran high following the Soviet breakup.
Yakupov, 48, was shot on the porch of his apartment block and died from his wounds in his car.
Faizov was wounded when his vehicle exploded in another part of the city, the Investigative Committee said.
“The Toyota Land Cruiser with the Mufti of Tatarstan inside, Ildus Faizov, was blown up,” it said.
“He was thrown out of the car by the force of the blast. He has been hospitalized with wounds of varying severity.”
Television showed flames and smoke bursting out of Faizov’s black vehicle, which regional police said he was driving.
Faizov, 49, has mounted a crackdown on extremists among the Muslim clergy of the republic of four million inhabitants.
He has said the main threat comes from followers of radical forms of Islam, Salafism and Wahhabism, whose ideology is now preached in some of the mosques in Tatarstan.
“The Salafis and Wahhabis constitute a very great danger. There are no moderates among them. They all finish one day by taking up arms,” Faizov said in an interview with AFP last year shortly after his election.
Yakupov headed the education department of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Tatarstan at the time of his death, but until recently was Faizov’s first deputy.
In May, the Kazan Week website listed him as Tatarstan’s second most influential Muslim, calling him the “strategist behind Faizov’s policy of rooting out religious extremism.”
Russia fears that the radical Islam of the North Caucasus whose rebels are calling for the creation of an Islamic state could spread to its other historically Muslim regions.
Militant leader Doku Umarov last year warned that his fighters were on a mission to “free the lands of our brothers,” referring to Russian regions with large Muslim populations.
In November 2010, three Islamists were killed in Tatarstan in a rare armed clash with police.
Around half of Tatarstan’s population is Muslim, but in Kazan few women wear headscarves and a huge mosque stands beside an Orthodox cathedral.
“The Salafis, the Islamic radicals have been active in Tatarstan for the past two years,” said Alexei Malashenko, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center. “This violent flare-up was expected.”


Inquiry into London’s Grenfell fire to hear bereaved speak of lost loved ones

Updated 4 min 21 sec ago
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Inquiry into London’s Grenfell fire to hear bereaved speak of lost loved ones

  • While the official death toll from the fire is 71, the inquiry will commemorate 72 people as it is including Maria del Pilar Burton, a resident of the tower who died in January
  • The public inquiry faces the daunting task of establishing the root causes of the fire from eye-witness accounts, videos and photos, expert evidence and the paper trail of the tower’s history

LONDON: People who lost family and friends in the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 71 people in London last year, will pay tribute to their loved ones at the start of hearings at a public inquiry into the causes of the disaster.
Only a charred, gutted ruin remains of Grenfell Tower, a 24-story social housing block in a deprived pocket of the rich west London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, since it was engulfed by flames in the middle of the night of June 14, 2017.
The public inquiry faces the daunting task of establishing the root causes of the fire from eye-witness accounts, videos and photos, expert evidence and the paper trail of the tower’s history since it was built in the 1970s.
But before it delves into the details of what happened, the inquiry wants to give those bereaved by the disaster an opportunity to pay tribute to those they lost by talking about them publicly, or by showing photos or videos if they wish.
These commemoration hearings are expected to last nine days, although the schedule is uncertain as the inquiry has set no time limit for the tributes. They are expected to last between two minutes and over an hour.
The oral hearings into the circumstances of the fire will start later, on June 4.
The first commemoration will be of baby Logan Gomes, who was stillborn in hospital shortly after his heavily pregnant mother Andreia, who lived on the 21st floor, escaped from the fire. Andreia survived after she was put in an induced coma and treated for cyanide poisoning.
While the official death toll from the fire is 71, the inquiry will commemorate 72 people as it is including Maria del Pilar Burton, a resident of the tower who died in January, having never left hospital since she escaped from the fire.
The Grenfell Tower fire shocked Britain and led to an outpouring of angst over whether poor quality social housing and neglect by the authorities of a deprived, ethnically diverse community had played a part in the tragedy.
Separately from the public inquiry, the police are conducting an investigation into the fire which could result in criminal charges against organizations involved in the construction, maintenance or refurbishment of the tower, or against individuals.