Russia's Muslim south triples sharia bride price
- Russia's Muslim south triples sharia bride price
Wed Jul 7, 2010 8:24am EDT
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The pricetag on a bride in Russia's Ingushetia
province has been tripled by the regional government, in a sign the
Muslim North Caucasus region is slipping out of Kremlin control as
sharia law eclipses Russian.
Against the backdrop of a bubbling Islamist insurgency, the revival of
Islam in the North Caucasus following the break-up of the Soviet Union
almost 20 years ago has brought sharia law to the region, revered by
both rebels and ordinary citizens alike.
The issue of the 'kalym', a price paid by a groom to the family of the
woman he chooses to marry, is the latest example of a broader trend
that has troubled the Kremlin.
"The increase of the kalym was decided by the residents themselves,"
the Kremlin-backed leader of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, told
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
At an Ingush conference for Muslim scholars and elders this week,
attended by Yevkurov, the money a groom must pay the bride's family
for her hand was increased from 12,500 roubles ($401.9) to 40,000
roubles ($1,286), the local government said on official website
"It is time to raise the rates, and with them the responsibility of
the groom," a statement on the site said.
Wary of the dangers of separatism after two bloody wars with Chechnya
since the mid-1990s, the Kremlin has watched uneasily as central power
yields to Islamic tenets in the region.
Polygamy, illegal under Russian law, is encouraged by local
authorities in the region. Last month rights workers blamed police for
paintball attacks on Chechen women for not wearing headscarves, and
Islamist fighters in Ingushetia have gunned down kiosk workers for
During their meeting, Putin looked concerned as he told Yevkurov that
the price rise for a bride did not correspond to Russian inflation.
Putin added he was not sure if the practice, widespread in the
Caucasus and Central Asia, was Muslim in its nature.
"We have yet to thoroughly examine this," he told Yevkurov.
At this week's Ingush conference, it was also decided to raise ten-
fold the price for settling a blood feud, to 1 million roubles
($32,150), with the aim of decreasing the centuries-old practice that
is widespread across the North Caucasus.
"Of course, it is better to move away from all this," Putin quipped to
Yevkurov after he proudly announced the new price.
One of Russia's most popular newspapers, Moskovsky Komsomolets,
splashed the bride price increase on its front page on Wednesday,
jocularly headlined "Camel Rate."
"This erodes Russian security. If sharia is higher than the (Russian)
constitution, it means that it is alright to kill policemen, soldiers
and simply infidels," the paper wrote, referring to the near-daily
attacks on law enforcement staged by rebels in the region.
Yevkurov, who narrowly survived a suicide bomb attack on his life last
year, is widely seen as a moderate secular leader, unlike Chechen
firebrand boss Ramzan Kadyrov.
Kadyrov, a devout Sufi Muslim, has been allowed by the Kremlin to
usher in Muslim-inspired rules such as periodic alcohol bans and
headscarves in state buildings, in exchange for maintaining a shaky
peace in the volatile region.
(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Maria Golovnina)
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