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6 Oct, 2010 12:12

Chechen clerics condemn bride-snatching

Snatching a bride in Chechen Republic can now lead to a $35,000 fine for the groom’s family, in addition to whatever sentence the groom himself may receive in accordance with the criminal code.

The decision was voiced by Sultan Mirzaev, the chair of the Muslim spiritual council after gathering of over 300 imams (mosque leaders) and qadis (religious judges) of the region’s villages and towns.

The clerics condemned the violent practice, because it violates Chechen traditions, the teachings of the Koran and also Russia’s criminal code. It can result in long-lasting grudges between families. Sometimes the groom and his friends, recklessly fleeing with the snatched bride from her family, die in traffic accidents.

Mirzaev said that any person who snatches a girl from now on will have to pay about $35,000 to the offended family. He also threatened punishment to clerics, who pressure fathers of the kidnapped brides to accept such a marriage.

The local government also carried out a poll by text message asking if "bride kidnapping" is acceptable in this day and age. 99 per cent of respondents said they support the current ban on the tradition.

The Russian criminal code says kidnappers can be sentenced to up to 15 years in jail.