Chechen TV Told to Teach Islam

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov threatened on Thursday to shut regional television stations, including private ones, if they do not offer viewers a crash course on Islam.

Kadyrov, speaking at a meeting with television executives, local administrators and Muslim clergymen, said television stations must explain the basics of Islam to help fight against radical Islamists.

The programming will "help to keep young people away from the destructive influence of various cults of Wahhabism and of other movements," he said, Interfax reported.

Radical Islamism, often called Wahhabism in the North Caucasus, is used by insurgents as a way to unify and mobilize followers in Chechnya and surrounding republics.

Kadyrov has battled fundamentalist Islam, which engulfed Chechnya in the 1990s. But he has put Islamic principles into Chechen law, including restrictions on gambling and alcohol. He was elected president at the age of 30 last February, three years after his father, Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, was assassinated in a bomb blast.