MOSCOW - The government in Chechnya, Russia’s Caucasian republic that has tried twice to gain independence in bloody wars of secession, has decided to start teaching the basics of Islam in preschools, Kommersant reports.

Chechnya is predominantly Muslim. The initiative comes directly from the Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadirov, who has already appointed a Muslim leader to oversee the initiative that will include a test for preschool children in three months to measure their knowledge of Islam.


“The teaching of Islam in preschools is an obvious violation of the Russian constitution,” said Nikolai Svanidze, head of the Commission for Faith Freedom in Russia. “But it’s not really surprising, since the Chechen Republic has been following its own laws for some time now.”

Neither the Chechen Education minister nor the Federal Education Ministry would comment on the new initiative.

The Russian council of Muftis, on the other hand, said they welcomed the decision. Perhaps more surprisingly, the Russian Orthodox Church also called the initiative positive, and that the church would be happy to help any preschool that wanted to add Orthodox instruction.