Russians Jail Muslim Men for Marrying Russian Islam Converts

Maryam, a Russian convert to Islam, came to Nalchik, the capital of the Russian-occupied Caucasian Muslim state of Kabardino-Balkaria, last month to wed in a festive ceremony that spilled out into the streets with well-wishers shouting “Allahu Akbar” – God is Great, the AP reported.

Now she spends her days mournfully standing in a knot of people outside the regional prosecutor’s office in Nalchik, petitioning for her husband to be released from jail. She says he was abducted by men in camouflage uniforms and masks a week after the wedding; after days of searching, she found he was being held in a prison hospital with a broken arm and three cracked ribs, and was accused of illegal weapons possession.

“I am sure that my husband’s arrest is revenge for our wedding. They even told me in the police station, ‘You deliberately mocked us with your God is Great,'” said the slight 23-year-old from the central Russian city of Ivanovo, her wide eyes and pale face the only things visible from underneath her tightly tied Muslim headdress and robe.

Young men such as Maryam’s husband continue to be jailed in spite of relatives’ protestations of innocence. Rights advocates have accused police of using repressive measures against observant Muslims all over the North Caucasus.

Maryam, an ethnic Russian who adopted a Muslim name when she converted two years ago, said she had been warned against moving to Nalchik but she had brushed off the warnings as exaggerations.

“After what happened to my husband, I understood they were right. It’s dangerous to live here,” she said, asking that her last name not be revealed so her parents would not find out about her troubles.

“But now I definitely won’t go. I will fight for my husband to be freed.”