UK Guardian Barely Mentions 'Islam' in Article About Chechnya's Gay Prison Camps

It's all about ... Russia

The Guardian published a 1,700 word article Thursday article on gay torture prisons in Chechnya. There is, however, just one glaring omission: even though Chechnya is a Muslim-majority country, the outlet made only one reference to Islam and buried it in the last half of the article. What's more, the lead of the article makes it seem as if gays are being persecuted in Chechnya because it is a Russian republic, rather than the fact that more than 95% of its population is Muslim: 

 

Below are excerpts from the article that illustrate the Guardian's spin: 

At least once a day, Adam’s captors attached metal clamps to his fingers and toes. One of the men then cranked a handle on a machine to which the clamps were linked with wires, and sent powerful electric shocks through his body. If he managed not to scream, others would join in, beating him with wooden sticks or metal rods.

As they tortured him, the men shouted verbal abuse at him for being gay, and demanded to know the names of other gay men he knew in Chechnya. “Sometimes they were trying to get information from me; other times they were just amusing themselves,” he said, speaking about the ordeal he underwent just a month ago with some difficulty.

Adam’s testimony, as well as that of another gay Chechen man with whom the Guardian spoke, backs up reports that a shocking anti-gay campaign is under way in the Russian republic of Chechnya, involving over a hundred and possibly several hundred men. Some are believed to have been killed. [...]

Igor Kochetkov, a gay rights activist from St Petersburg, has helped organise an emergency contact centre which gay people in Chechnya can reach out to securely to get help with evacuation. He said “dozens” of people had got in touch to ask for help. Many are in hiding from both their families and the authorities.

“We are talking about the mass persecution of gay people, with hundreds of people kidnapped by authorities,” Kochetkov told the Guardian. “This is unprecedented not only in Russia but in recent world history. There is little doubt that we are dealing with crimes against humanity.”

Under the Moscow-backed local leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya has been rebuilt after two brutal separatist conflicts in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Kadyrov pledges allegiance to Vladimir Putin and a love for Russia, and in return the Kremlin turns a blind eye to human rights abuses. Critics say Kadyrov’s notorious battalions have long operated outside the law.

The one and only reference to Islam is found in the second paragraph below, which comes in the last half of the article: 

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no information about the allegations and advised those with complaints to contact authorities: an unlikely recourse given the authorities themselves are implicated.

In Chechnya’s ultra-traditional society, based on strong codes of family and clan allegiance as well as Islamic faith, having a gay relative is seen as a stain on the entire extended family. Brothers and sisters of a known gay man would find it hard to get married as the family would be seen as tainted.

Many gay Chechens are married, and lead double lives or suppress their feelings, so as not to cause grief to their families. The men with whom the Guardian spoke said they had never told a single family member or non-gay friend about their sexuality. Meetings and even conversations with other gay men were carried out using extreme conspiratorial methods.

“These people have lived in a completely closed society and have spent their whole lives exercising absolute discretion,” said Kochetkov. “Many of them are physically unable even to say the word ‘gay’.” 

For years, Chechen authorities have blackmailed the republic’s tiny, beleaguered gay community. Akhmed, whom the Guardian met in a different location to Adam, always knew he was gay, but forced himself to bury the feelings until a few years ago. His first date with a man ended in disaster, when the other man informed on him to the police.

It is utterly confounding as to what ideology is motivating Chechens to behave this way towards members of the a LGBT community. Good to know that the Guardian, as pillar of journalistic integrity, has investigated the matter thoroughly. 

Issues