“Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways.” (Proverbs 3:31)
Talgat Tadzhuddin, Chief Mufti of Russia and head of the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate, is a crafty political animal, judging by the fact that despite having been originally appointed by the Soviet government he has managed to retain his position through the various transmutations of the post-Soviet era.
Tadzhuddin is probably the most visible Muslim clergyman in Russia, in his capacity as leader of all the Muslims in Moscow and Central Russia. As such he has lent great assistance to his president when, back in October, he declared his “resolute support for the deeply respected President Putin and his supporters in Russia’s higher echelons of power, who, in the Federation Council, have unanimously approved his proposal to allow the use of the Russian armed forces abroad, being strictly guided by the counter-terrorism principles of international law on the one hand, and on the other based on a formal aid request from the legitimate government of fraternal Syria in its fight against the united forces of chaos and terrorism.”
Which is why many in Russia wondered this week, why the Moscow Mufti told reporters, following a meeting with the president: “Regarding the question of Syria, I proposed to Vladimir Putin that he should treat Israel the way he treated Crimea, but Vladimir Vladimorovitch refused.”
According a journalist who was present at the press meeting, the room responded to Tadzhuddin with “laughter and applause.”
Apparently, someone in Israel did not think this was very funny, because the official Russian news agency TASS on Wednesday issued a short item saying the Kremlin believes that Russia’s Supreme Mufti was joking when he said that Syria and Israel should enjoy the same kind of treatment as Crimea.
“I’m unable to make any comment on this statement. Honestly, I have no idea what he had in mind,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media. “Apparently, that was some kind of joke by the Supreme Mufti. It could’ve been nothing but a joke,” Peskov said.