Oleg Kireev on 12 Mar 2001 14:02:09 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] mailghetto # 37 (muslimnet)

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text # 93


Indeed, I like India most of all. Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandi, Neru, Indira Gandi… But Middle East has its charm as well. That is why Muslimgauze has dedicated all his 90 CDs to it, and everybody listens to him. Middle East is known by some copy-book maxims that concern one’s attitude towards Islam: a Muslim neglects women’s rights, violates the vow not to drink wine and eat pork and is ready to kill any infidel because he’s sure he’ll go to heaven after that. On the other hand, for several years Middle East has been a grand thorn in the side of world global capitalism. It gave birth to the vogue of Arafat-style headcloth adored by leftists of the 90s. Since Russia has been fighting a war with the Chechens during the last few years, for us Middle East embodies the mysterious planet of Islam that renders great support to the small republic.

At www.amina.com, one of the sites belonging to Islamic world resistance, the title page contains words “Chechnya is a modern Muslim society and Chechens have very strong respect for old people. Chechens are the best friends and are the worst enemies. It means that if you have a friend from the Chechen Republic you will never be in misery.” After reading these words I made up my mind to spend some hours surfing the Muslim Internet and share some impressions with you.

The first things that caught my attention were informational mailing lists. The very fact of their existence denotes specific culture of Net journalism. The informational service Islamic Association for Palestine (www.iap.org), as it has become known later, ranks among the first in Islamic net hierarchy. Each message begins with words “Assalamu’alaikum”. Everyone can subscribe by sending an e-mail to majordomo@iap.org with “subscribe IAP-NET” in the title. The major subject that makes up the center of battling world powers is the campaign against Israel prime minister Ariel Sharon. Even European politicians, as our media inform, feel doubtful about a man with Gestapo (Zionist) past - when he used to be a military chief, Ariel Sharon gave orders and personally participated in exterminating hundreds of Palestinians. As IAP mailing list informs, these facts provoke “Muslim intifadah that seems to grow into worldwide Jihad”.

Several links in the news allowed me to easily get into the center of Muslim world wide web. First of all I was astounded by its enormous size. Not only propagandist rhetoric with tormented arguments which are unavoidable in such cases, but also the great volumes of information and its presentability are surprising. Each site has first level domain name; perhaps they have $50-70 a year to pay for these domains. Only one is located in England (.co.uk), the others have international domain names .com, .org and .net. There are many mirrors, links are organized hierarchically. Great design, indeed, without excessive mp3’s, animation and other “stuff”; but the main thing is the enormous number of information agencies, multilanguage texts, often an everyday update, bellicose and aggressive propaganda and Muslim news everywhere. Of courser, life is most active in Middle East, and the grand site www.islam-online.net presents it in all its grandeur. IVIEWS.COM, Islam Online, Muslaman, Palestine Information Center, Dawn Newspaper, International Islamic News Agency, Information Times, Islamic Financial Data Services, IANA RadioNet, Islam Information and News Network, Palestine Times, INews Daily, Al Muhajiroun News … What shahs, emirs and oil kings finance these newspapers and offices provided with every possible kind of modern electronic conveniences, professional and religious journalists, every web designing achievement? These sites are made very professionally and are accompanied by video and audio material. Together with News, Finances and Policy sections you can always find one dedicated to Islam or hadj. “Allah said to Mohammed..” Everywhere you can find a full version of Koran or other sacred texts.

According to them, Muslim forces unite their efforts. Perhaps, they just don’t expose their inner conflicts, because the sites are obviously done for the sake of the Islam public representation. They’re primarily intended for concerned readers all over the world. While avoiding politically incorrect messages (smaller sites seldom bother about that), official Muslim pages proclaim Zionism to be their worst enemy and appeal to UN anti-Zionist declarations. Islam Online contains “an appeal to all Jews” that suggests differentiating between nationality and politics and considering Zionism to be the enemy of mankind, as well as Fascism. As a circumstantiate argument, they inform how much money is annually spent by American tax payers on supporting “Israel occupation regime”. This trick – propaganda of Islam among American citizens – is carried on to IAP mailing list, which appeals to its readers asking them to distribute these statements among any available American media.

The support rendered by world Islamic society to warring Chechens, perhaps, does not always spread on to Internet. The leading site of Chechen Mujahideen “Kavkaz-center” is made by unprofessional journalists, it only has French and Ukrainian versions. The best site dedicated to Chechnya is called www.qoqaz.net and exists in 16 different languages including Indonesian and Somalian. Red tongues of fire appear on the screen before the title and text. The informational service is very good and updated daily. There also are interviews with field commanders, and in FAQ section one can find information about joining armed groups (“If you are not trained, then the Mujahideen in Chechnya advise you to go and get some training first in other countries”), Russian POWs tell about poor moral condition of their army. “What is Ummah’s answer to these crimes against Muslims? Where are Ummah’s sages, why don’t they condemn these crimes and ask Ummah to undertake proper action in order to support their brethren in Chechnya? Aren’t the leaders of Muslim countries concerned with condition of their Muslim brethren in Chechnya?”

The mentioned www.amina.com is a more or less organized compilation of news messages taken from various news agencies, while the leading news agency dealing with this subject is called Marsho (www.marsho.org - but I suspect there is something wrong with this URL – check its mirror at http://www.musalman.com/islamnews/Chechnya.shtml). The bilingual www.ichkeria.org, however, features Russian language and the values of traditional journalism. There are even links to rights-defending centers and liberal media, such as radio Svoboda. The site is idyllically styled and dreams of some utopian Ichkeria, though some sections, such as “Genocide in Chechnya” and “The Holocaust” contrast with the soft design. The site is definitely pro-Chechen, though not Islamic. There is an impressive historiography of Russian military crimes in the Caucasus since 17th century.

www.kavkaz.org, owned by Chechen Mujahideen themselves, has very poor reputation, I’ve only seen it once among other Muslim links. Despite the declared solidarity campaign, world Islamists seem to abstain from solidarity with obvious propagandists. This site is really dubious. There are messages about “executing of traitors”. It predicts war that is to happen soon and the foundation of a caliphate in Middle Asia, explains the “servile nature” of Russians, and by the way, gives much less information on Russian military crimes. Perhaps, they’re not much concerned with the fate of civilians too. This is a site of “warriors of Allah” who strive to turn the civil war into worldwide Jihad.

How can we find true information about the way that is underway for five years so far and has already become the background of our everyday life than? Not from TV news, probably, because they are unauthentic not only because the authorities won’t tell us the truth, but also because the army chiefs do not allow the journalists to hot spots. We can turn our attention to www.memo.ru belonging to a rights-defending organization Memorial. It not only provides authentic information on the Caucasus situation, but also has observers and specialists working in the region. The site tells about everyday life in Chechnya without any political attitude. The everyday life consists of assaults, looting, marauding, clean-ups, tortures and murders of civilians. In reply to Mujahideen’s sporadic attacks Russian soldiers blow up houses, undertake clean-ups and take away people, whose corpses are often discovered with signs of torture. Hundreds of people are considered unaccounted for. Upon pretext of checking identification people are arrested, tortured and held to ransom. It is notable that pogroms and kidnappings are in most cases committed by mercenary soldiers, while enlisted soldiers don’t participate, and OMON warriors often attempt to prevent these crimes from happening. Chechen citizens in turn undertake actions of civil disobedience:

When Russian troops blocked Alkhan-Kala again on the 15th of December declaring another checking of passport regime, civilians frustrated it by starting an action of civil protest. They approached the troops, brought dead bodies and demanded first of all to cancel all clean ups which have become the means of enrichment for police chiefs and, secondly, to provide security from bandits. They presented a banner saying “Down with vakhabism”. The troops kept the village blocked for several days more, but the clean up was after all frustrated. This was one of the most notable actions of non-violent civil resistance in the second half of 2000.

Whoever the vakhabites are, even though some of them commit slave trade and kidnapping, Russians give them serious reasons to do so. Again, www.memo.ru is worth checking at least after another portion of TV programming. Russian and Chechen bandits rob, vakhabites fight, civilians loathe bandits and because of that the chances of vakhabites are improving. As in Israel people vote for military criminals against Arabs, in Russia military criminals who deserve new Nurenberg carry on controlling the situation. Whatever we think about Caucasus and Allah, Ben Laden and Arafat, Middle East continues to establish its presence in the world.

I would like to finish this review with a recollection of a strange man I’ve once met under strange conditions. “Kolya”, with whom I got acquainted last summer in Kharkov, used to be an elitist regiment marine in Afghanistan. He had a tattoo on his shoulder – “eternal flame” and numbers “1982-1984. 1362-1364”. The last numbers correspond with Muslim calendar. “Fourteenth century, indeed” – Kolya said. “Russian farmers plough up earth with field engines, their farmer rides a bull instead. But the bull has a Panasonic video hanging on one horn and a Sony on the other. When you enter a hut, you see that it is wooden, but in the corner of the room there is a large stereo. When you pick up bags, there’re ducats in one, pounds in the other and hashish in the third”.


P.S. While only thinking of writing this review, I received a message from MosBabylon mailing list:


13th of February 2000

DPN participants are arrested.

In the morning of the 13th of February in Moscow several members (Ljudmila Evstigneeva, Pavel Ljuzakov, Boris Stomakhin, Pavel Kantor, Dmitry Tarasov) of Russian Movement for Chechen Independence (RDNCh) were searched and arrested by FSB officers. According to what we have found out, officials confiscated two computers, RDNCh and RKO (Russian contact alliance) documents , Besides, FSB officers confiscated several magazines, including “Radical politics” published by RKO, “Antimilitarist” by “Antimilitarist radical association” (ARA), “Direct action”. Leaflets of the movement “Rejoice Maria” propagandizing against Russian orthodox church were confiscated too. Arrested people were released several hours later after investigation. As they inform, a criminal case is started against them. They are accused of calumny, insulting an official and exhorting to subversion. The maximal penalty, according to the Criminal code, is 5 years imprisonment.

And yesterday I heard of new bombardments of Baghdad by Americans and British. Intifadah is underway, and it is going to become real Jihad.


INFO: The dubious celebration of the 23rd of February was marked by numerous anti-war initiatives all over Moscow. For the first time in history the protest against the Chechen war took on organized form and resulted in specific actions held by various organizations, such as anarchist groups, “Memorial”, The Radical party, The Rainbow keepers etc. On the 23rd of February the first meeting took place in Pushkin square in Moscow; as one of its participants says, “the meeting was fine. Rights-defending activists provided good promotion (many leaflets and posters in colleges and various clubs (for example, I saw one in O.G.I), also in newspapers, such as “Novaya gazeta” and “Moskovski komsomolets”), and approximately 300-400 people came. Their age varied from 35 to 50, though some twenty per cent of them were younger than that. I didn’t pay much attention to people who spoke on the stage, but I can state that most of them belonged to various rights-defending initiatives and they differentiated themselves from any liberal parties, such as SPS, “Yabloko” or Novodvorskaya. As far as I understood, a resolution was passed at the meeting, according to which the Anti-war Action Committee should be restored with a new name. Passers-by didn’t seem to be annoyed by the event. Some 6 or 7 people actively expressed their discontent”. The actions continued on the 23rd and 24th. As participants say, there were less people and cameras. The same correspondent summarizes: “All meetings gathered a notable number of people, the good thing is that most of the participants were not political activists. It is rather surprising, for almost every meeting that happens in Moscow is arranged and attended solely by activists. I think I have the right to say that virtually everybody in Russia is irritated by the Chechen war. There is a definite (and not so small) protesting potential. It is very dangerous that many people seriously believe that the only possible solution for the Chechen problem is to exterminate every Chechen citizen. The reasons for such tendencies is another subject, though.”

Information on actions and other anti-war initiatives is available also at www.antimil.narod.ru. Besides, in addition to the issue you can find interesting information on the Chechen situation at both Memorial Internet site and www.refugee.ru

The old anarchist mailing service called “The black list” is on air again, and the first issue delivers sensational news about the NRA case. It turned out that one of the main suspects on the case Olga Nevskaya was released from Lefortovo several months ago, in late November, and some rights-defending activists (names not mentioned) have been concealing that fact so far. Does this fact mean that other people involved in the case, first of all Alexander Biriukov and Larisa, are going to be released too?

BELARUS: On the 5th of February the famous newspaper “Navinki” published by Minsk anarchists (5600 copies regularly) held an action called “Rock guillotine” - an alternative to the official “Rock coronation”. The latter features three Belorus bands that struggle for prizes – NRM, The Leprechauns and Lyapis-Trubetskoy. At the action held by Navinki prizes were distributed for “worst performing”, “most abominable video” etc. Dima and Marina Model, who have just returned from Minsk, report that the newspaper is now so significant that the students of the journalist department of Minsk university write their graduation papers about them. Some time earlier the editorial team of Navinki arranged an action of “mastering” an opposition manifestation (thus carrying on with the Moscow street-party on the 1st of May in which they took part), and also squatted someone’s apartment for half an hour. I should also say that there is a show at Belorus TV that resembles Kiselyov’s “Itogi”. It is called “The secret springs of power”. The editorial team of Navinki illustrated this show at the mentioned manifestation by bringing an old sofa there and collectively hopping on its springs.

Translation: Alexey Kovalev