... has not been easy for me, a lifelong sympathiser with the Chechen cause (well, up to this February...).
When we were at school and the first Chechen war was brewing and breaking out, I remember the unanimous support the ethnically Latvian population gave to the Chechen's fight for independence. Just think about it! We were small - so were they, we broke away from imperial agression - they wanted the same, they were overpowered by brutal force - so had we been. Volunteers streamed to fight on the Chechen side, the ideal of freedom, the right of self-determination, of breaking away from Russian dominance was powerful, was calling, was something we could all identify with.
And this is certainly one side of the truth. The call for national freedom is a strong and powerful means of uniting the nation. The people, most of whom were and still are Sufis, by the way (and I absolutely love Sufis!), got inspired by it. We got inspired by it.
And I remember my classmate, a Russian guy, blurting out, "Only eradiating them (the Chechens) to the last soul will solve this".
This seemed horrendous, awful, not simply intolerant or ill-informed, but directly evil, what is more, it seemed to prove our point of view - that one cannot give up in face of this brutal agression (talk about Kuhn's paradigms! Whatever the part with another paradigm says only seems to prove yours).
With years, of course, you do get to realise that nothing is black-and white (and it certainly isn't!), but the general antipathy towards the Russian way of dealing with the problem remained (and the Russian way is by no means democratic).
Things did change in Israel, but it has been more of a hunch regarding Chechnya, rather than anything specific. Only a few weeks ago did I first hear the words Caucasus Emirate. It rang a bell. Many bells, in fact.
The umma. The universal chaliphate. The fight for independence as a first step. A quote such as this: "Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The Establishment of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity" (1977, Zoheir Muhsin, Head of PLO Military Operations).
First, people rise for a national idea. This is good, this is popular. But as militant islamism knows no nation (the umma is homogenic, really) - the next step is inevitably religious unity, one more step, one step closer to the dream of universal chaliphate (a radical dream, yes, insane, perhaps, but still doable. For comparison - No elderly German I had known ever supported the Nazi ideal - did you ever wonder why their voices weren't heard? Where did the monster come from and why nobody stopped it?..)
The Caucasus Emirate, a-self proclaimed state (2007) consists of what we know as Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Stavropol and Krasnodar, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and North Ossetia. To what extent does the emirate reflect reality, is, of course, a good question (and for the time being it is probably a virtual reality), but the fact is that this is an ideal many are willing to sacrifice their lifes for. And, more often, sacrifice the lifes of others for.
And the savoury bit. A website. To die for. Check this out:
(supposed to be in many languages, although I assume Russian would have the most information available)
This is real, guys. Just like the fellow Catholic who told me yesterday she wished we had armed police with us during procession on Saturday night.