Observations of an American journalist in Azerbaijan, Russia and USA.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I saw a little item in Day.Az today - about the arrest of Wahhabists in Zaqatala this week. They were arrested in connection with an explosion at a local mosque.
This interested me for several reasons.
First, I am going to Zaqatala next week for my last planned course. A friend had told me about a high level of activity by members of the Wahhabi sect in that area. This seems a little strange to me, because another friend has told me that the atmosphere in Zaqatala is "progressive." Men & women can demonstrate affection publicly.My friend - a Peace Corps volunteer - wears shorts. But - this "progressivism" coexists with a high level of activity by the very conservative Wahhabi sect.
Second, the internal conflicts of Islam are interesting to me. Mysterious because the religion is quite foreign to me, despite the fact that I live now in a Muslim culture. The Wahhabi sect is regarded with some hostility by many Muslim here, because the Wahhabi are seen as extreme, giving Muslims as a whole a bad name. The Wahhabis also have a reputation for violence. And the Washhabis themselves regard the Shia - the dominant sect in Azerbaijan - as apostates.
Perhaps I'll do some interviews once I get to Zaqatala. I'm looking forward to the trip.
Here are a couple of photos from my morning walk today. It really is about the only time when it is comfortable to walk briskly. Even at 8:30 a.m., the temperature was about 30 C (85 F).