It’s no secret that Russia’s conservative Muslim region of Chechnya has been a tempting target for Islamic State’s recruiters seeking cannon fodder for their failing insurgency across Iraq and Syria.
Now the Head of Chechnya’s administration, Ramzan Kadyrov, has a novel idea for cutting down on potential ISIS recruits.
Hundreds of divorced couples are being reunited in Chechnya as part of a new government programme to help tackle terrorism in the country, according to reports.
The move followed claims by Ramzan Kadyrov, President of the predominantly Muslim Russian Caucasus Republic, that children of divorced couples are more likely to join extremist groups, such as Isis.
According to BBC Russian, Kadyrov says too many women are leaving their husbands and taking children away from their fathers without cause:
Most [divorced] mothers want to take the children away from their fathers, go to the muftiate, turn to elders, to their relatives…They say they will bring them up themselves.
Then they rent an apartment in the city and start begging…I ask, and where is your husband? She says, ‘he’s gone, he left me’.
I say, if you did not have a husband, I would help you. You have a husband, the father of your children. They bring the father, and I ask him, why do not you provide for your family? He says, ‘I swear by the Koran, I did not leave this woman alone'[.]
The BBC also quotes sources in Chechnya as saying that men who divorce their wives in the Caucasus republic will now pay a heavy penalty:
Today there was a big event in the Muftiate: it was decided that if a husband divorced his wife in Chechnya, he would have to pay her at least 300 thousand rubles [5,100 USD], and they decided that a man cannot divorce his wife, if there is no serious good reason. If he divorces her for no reason…they will return his wife and force him to provide for her[.] In general, the decision was made that women have more rights.
According to the Chechen government, almost a thousand couples have been reunited – even in cases where the husband was already remarried, in compliance with Islamic law. Again from IBT:
A commission appointed by Kadyrov claims to have reunited at least 948 couples in six weeks. The reunification took place even in cases when the ex-husband had re-married, meaning that men have been allowed to have new two wives.
Rasul Uspanov, secretary of the country’s headquarters to “harmonise marital and family relations”, told the BBC there was a case whereby, following a divorce, children of a couple were living with their father, who had remarried.
“After our commission’s work, he got his first wife back, and now lives with two wives, because under Islam a man can have four wives,” he said.
“[Men] understand that it’s better for the birth mother to live with her children, instead of watching from the sidelines and suffering”, he continued.
Chechnya’s leaders have apparently concluded that broken homes produce broken people, who are then more susceptible to extremist ideology.
It remains to be seen whether such an experiment will prove successful, but western European nations, where liberal social values and radical Islamic terror attacks seem to be growing in equal measure, may want to observe carefully the results.