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    February 29, 2016

    Leader of Islamic Culture Center in Latvia turns up in Syria with ISIS

    Russian Spring, February 29, 2016

    Translated from Russian by Tom Winter 

    The leader of the Muslims of Latvia turns out to be an ISIS terrorist and has shown up in Syria.

    Latvian security police have opened a criminal case on Oleg Petrov, who was the leader of the Latvian Islamic Culture Center until recently.

    He is not in Latvia now, but, judging by a video published on the Internet, is in Syria, where he has joined the armed Islamist terrorists and praises the path of jihad, calling it a war against "infidels." Also in his video he justifies the terrorist attacks in Paris.

    The Muslim community of Latvia has stated that they feel betrayed. This was announced by the Latvian television channel TV3 in the transmission Nekā personīga.

    It is reported that Petrov is a so-called convert, i.e. has converted to Islam from another religion. He became an authority figure among the Muslims and the only Latvian citizen, having passed six years of religious education in Saudi Arabia.

    Oleg Petrov frequently appeared in the media, along with another convert, notorious former journalist Robert Klimovich. Together they also lectured at universities in Riga, Rezekne and Daugavpils, encouraging students to read and study the Koran.

    Klimovich was widely known for his loud statements that in 50 years the majority of Latvians would be Muslim.

    The well-known Latvian orientalist Leon Tayvans considers that Petrov's joining up with ISIS terrorists can cause great harm to the country's Muslim community. He stated the fact that the leader of the community being an extremist, should be taken very seriously.

    "Islam is a very autocratic religion. In Islam, one listens especially carefully to what the religious leader says. There is nothing democratic. Absolutely nothing. And if the chief deviates, then his followers will be similar. In Russia there is a saying "As the priest, so the parish." And this is very true," said the orientalist.

    "So after those speeches which I hear from local leaders and from the "talking heads" of Islam, there are suspicions that this suitcase has a double bottom," he added.

    Janis Lutsinsh, the new head of the Islamic Culture Center, said that videos with Petrov's radical lectures will be removed from the web in the near future.

    "First, we positively evaluate any person. We trust. We do not know what is hidden in this man, how he thinks, what his ideas are. So I can not comment any further on Petrov. When he was with us, we did not see anything out of the ordinary, or anything bad on his part," said Lutsish responding to questions.

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