Chechen Leader Urges End to Bride Kidnapping

Reuters, October 18, 2010

The head of Russia’s Muslim Chechnya region Monday urged followers to “eradicate” the age-old practice of bride kidnapping, a tradition outlawed by Russian law, but still practiced in the region.

Analysts say the region’s powerful leader Ramzan Kadyrov is facing increased pressure from his backers in the Kremlin to curb local traditions that violate federal laws, including what critics say are moves to introduce religious-based rules.

“I declare . . . that we will root out once and for all from our society the kidnapping of young women,” Kadyrov said, according to Russian state-run news web site Vesti.ru.

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The ancient practice of bride kidnapping, although now widely associated in Russia with Islam, was taking place in the Caucasus prior to its conversion to Islam, some 250 years ago.

The tradition is also practiced in post-Soviet central Asia.

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Kadyrov’s condemnation of bride kidnapping, which is already outlawed in Russia, demonstrates the autonomy which Chechnya already enjoys.

“We follow Islam, which unequivocally condemns such a practice and which does not recognize marriage without the true consent of the girl,” Kadyrov was quoted as saying.

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