Reviews

Observing the importance given by both sides to publicity in the Chechen wars of 1994-6 and 1999-2002, the author analyses how Islamic language was used in the two Russian invasions of Chechnya, through three pairs of variables: Russian and Chechen public discourse; Chechen public and private discourse; and both sides’ discourses in the first war compared to the second war. Among his conclusions comes the fact that Chechen discourse was not uniform, and that the language of Islam was used less often, although its frequency increased in the second war. A possible reason for this choice is that the Chechen leadership’s motivations were more nationalistic than religious. Another possible reason for the sparse usage of Qur’anic language may also be the unfamiliarity of many Chechens with classical Arabic ― the Chechen practice of Sufism blending Islam with cultural traditions of the North Caucasus. More convincingly, through comparison with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s discourse, S. Radnitz also suggests that Chechen strategy being intended at obtaining Western support at governmental level, its nationalistic component was intentionally more developed even during the second Russian invasion. Conversely, Bin Laden’s personal charisma and strategy of appeal to individuals directly instead of through national channels for conversion to Muslims to anti-Americanism made him victorious through mobilisation of purely Islamic discourse.

The Redaction
CER: II-6.3.B-500