Who had assumed that secularization was an irreversible process in Russia’s Tatarstan province soon may be disabused. A top Muslim cleric in Russia’s Tatarstan province was shot dead Thursday last week and Tatarstan’s chief mufti was wounded by a car bomb. Attacks that the province’s leaders and local religious authorities initially said were probably related to the priests’ criticism of radical Islamists and Wahhabis.

An article from local Kazan Times outlines that there is some truth in the devout Russian Muslim’s criticism of the less attractive aspects of contemporary state controlled Russian Muslim culture to lend plausibility to his call for a return to purity:

Not far from glitzy boulevards where an oil boom has sent up stadiums and high-rises overlooking the Volga River, women in headscarves wander through Islamic bookstores selling pamphlets on the institution of sharia in Russia.

Kazan, capital of Russia’s mainly-Muslim Tatarstan region, has long had an image as a showcase of religious tolerance. But that reputation was shattered last week by car bomb and shooting attacks carried out only hours before the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

On the wall outside the bookshop, a flyer in the local Tatar language calls Muslims to unite against the region’s top religious leader, Mufti Ildus Faizov, who was wounded in the attacks which also killed his deputy.

Read it all here.

However, the article also gives some hints that pure commercial rivalries may have played a role. Even if this is denied in another article from the Moscow Times:

Tatarstan’s chief mufti, Ildus Faizov, was the victim of a murder attempt last week when his car was blown up in the middle of the day. Minutes earlier, his former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, was shot at point-blank range.

Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee’s spokesman, Vladimir Markin, said the attacks resulted from a business dispute. Faizov and Rustyom Gataullin, a man who’d been fired from the Idel-Hajj company, had argued over a „cash flow“ problem, Markin said.

Markin should be ashamed about making such a statement.

Read it all here.

What remains to be concluded? As it is often the case in Russia and CIS countries a final conclusion is hardly possible. But one thing is clear. When it comes to curbing unpleasant religious movements, money and business ties are most welcome tools for the Russian government. Unfortunately in the case of radical Islam this could backfire.