Anti-graft pamphlet quotes from holy books, prophet

Published December 1, 2006

A Russian organization with close ties to the Kremlin is quoting the Bible, the Jewish Torah and a saying attributed to the prophet Muhammad in an anti-corruption drive to warn against the evils of bribery.  

“‘Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.’ All the people shall say, ‘Amen!'” (Deuteronomy 27:25), reads the Bible verse in a 16-page pocket-sized booklet, titled If You’re Asked for a Bribe, and published by the Public Chamber, a Kremlin-supported group.  

Initially the authors thought of using quotations from historical figures to illustrate the problem of bribery, said Andrei Przhezdom-sky, chairperson of the chamber’s anti-corruption sub-commission. “Then we thought, we live in a multi-religious country, with different nationalities and religions,” he said. “People who have a serious attitude to religion, moral principles, for them it might be important to know what a religion thinks of this subject.”  

The Bible verse is followed by a hadith, or saying attributed to the prophet Muhammad:  “The person who gives a bribe and the person who takes a bribe, both will burn in hell.”  Transparency International, which tracks bribery and corruption around the world, ranks Russia among the worst offenders. Bribe-takers are reported to range from top officials who demand millions in kickbacks to doctors who require off-the-books payments and traffic police who forgive real and imagined infractions when slipped the right money.  

“The goal of this brochure is to show that corruption is a phenomenon that is a crime not just against the state, but a crime condemned by religion, and a sin,” said Timur Kireyev, a spokesperson for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.


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