Russia’s Knotty Policies on Islam, Mirrored in Trial
In Kazan, Russia, 12 defendants stand accused of membership in Hizbut Tahrir, which has been banned as a terrorist organization in Russia.
KAZAN, Russia — Almaz Khasanov stood up to a microphone in the green-painted cage where he and his co-defendants sit and made a statement that sent a wave of anxiety through the cramped courtroom here.
“I am a member of the political party, Hizbut Tahrir,” he said in prepared testimony. “The goal of this organization is the creation of an Islamic way of life, including the creation of an Islamic Caliphate.”
Mr. Khasanov is a self-styled religious revolutionary who has vowed to challenge the longstanding way of life here in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, an ancient Muslim region deep in Russia’s heartland.
He is on trial along with 11 others, accused of membership in a terrorist organization and of fomenting plots to violently overthrow the government. Most of the men deny belonging to the group, and their friends and human rights advocates say that the Russian police and intelligence agents used torture to extract false evidence in the case.