Chechnya's chop-chop justice

Source: "The Economist"
Date: Sep, 20, 1997


Title: Chechnya's chop-chop justice. ( Chechnya plans to adopt Islamic law now that it has broken away from Russia; an Islamic judge explains )

THE breakaway republic of Chechnya, still de jure but not de facto part of Russia, signalled its embrace of Islamic sharia law this month with the public execution of a man and a woman for murder. Judging by the remarks of the chairman of the republic's Supreme Sharia Court, Shamsudin Batukaev, more such events can be expected. Here is an excerpt from an interview with him last week in the Russian weekly, Argumenti i Fakti.

AIF: Aslan Maskhadov [Chechnya's president] has said that touching a woman is, for Chechens, the worst crime of all. Even when doing traditional dancing, the Chechen male must not touch his female partner. But under sharia law, you beat young girls and cut their hair off.

BATUKAEV: We don't beat them with our bare hands. We use sticks.

AIF: Under sharia, the punishment for drunkenness is 40 strokes of the cane and for theft your hand is chopped off, while you can be condemned to death for premeditated murder, spying, apostasy, adultery . . .

B: But we haven't chopped anybody's hands or feet off-yet.

AIF: Still, Chechens are used to a secular way of life. Surely you won't make today's young Chechen women wear long-sleeved robes and cover their faces?

B: Chechnya must have the sharia dress code. That's how Chechen women will dress.

AIF: [Some Chechen leaders] say Chechnya should have secular courts as well. So there could be different sorts of courts for different crimes.

B: So who is going to write a secular criminal code for us so quickly? It takes years.

AIF: Couldn't it be based on the Russian criminal code?

B: Never. We didn't fight Russia in order to live by Russian law.


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