‘Exorcisms’ performed on Chechen stolen brides

Dozens of cars were parked outside. Crowds thronged the pavement, desperate to get through the metal gates.

In the courtyard women were filling plastic bottles and jerry cans with water blessed by the imam.

As I took off my shoes, I noticed a marble plaque on the wall:

“There is no illness which Allah cannot cure”.

Inside, huddles of families were camped out on sofas.

There were many tearful faces. Men paced up and down. It might have been an ordinary hospital waiting room until a girl started shrieking and contorting.

A man scooped her up and carried her off into a room off the landing.

Spine-chilling yells came from behind the frosted glass door but nobody turned a hair. Gradually they were stifled by incantations from the Koran.

Most of the patients here are young women and many have suffered breakdowns after being forced into marriage. They are brought to be exorcised and turned into Chechen-style Stepford Wives.

The Centre for Islamic Medicine is an imposing red brick mansion near the centre of Grozny.

It was once the headquarters of the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev – Russia’s number one enemy and the man who masterminded the school hostage siege in Beslan in 2004.

Like many buildings in the Chechen capital, the centre has been expensively renovated.

Two wars for independence from Russia reduced Grozny to rubble.

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