Monday, August 1, 2022
Putin’s War In Ukraine Politicizing Muslims In Russia – OpEd
By Paul Goble
- Vladimir Putin has extended his repressive moves against Muslims from those he identifies as radicals to those even he has called moderate traditionalists, the Idel-Ural movement says. Together with his war in Ukraine, this is radicalizing the faithful and leading more Muslims to conclude that only secession can save their community.
This is recreating a situation like the one that existed in the early 1990s, the Altyn Miras (Golden Inheritance) portal says, one when many Muslims within Russia thought about escaping Moscow’s rule but did not do so (idel-ural.org/archives/rossiya-stremitsya-vernut-sebe-status-imperii-no-eta-vojna-mozhet-dat-shans-dlya-osvobozhdeniya-musulmanskih-narodov-ot-okov/).
- At that time, the portal continues, the Russian state was weak; but Muslims missed their chance, many of them deceived by the divide and conquer approach of the Kremlin. More recently, the Russian state has regained strength and become more imperialistic and repressive; but Muslims have changed as well: they recognize the threat they ignored earlier.
“Today,” Altyn Miras says, “the level of colonial pressure on Muslims of the region has achieved the peak of the last 30 years” and is touching all Muslims and not just those the Russian state has called radicals or extremists. But more important, this has led to a rebirth of the political consciousness of the umma.
- Under various pretexts, it continues, the Russian regime has been “liquidating Muslim organizations and even the parishes of mosques belong to the official clergy, not to mention the total repressions against Islamic organizations which do not belong to the official hierarchies.” Thus, adhering to “traditional Islam” is no longer an adequate defense and protection.
“The vector of politics in relation to Muslim peoples has changed,” Altyn Mirassays. “Earlier, this policy consisted in the division of Muslims into ‘traditional’ and ‘radical’ groups,” with the latter imprisoned but the former allowed to function. But now even the latter is coming under pressure to close.
- Indeed, it appears that Moscow has no intention of stopping until Muslim peoples are completely assimilated and Islam on the territory of what is now the Russian Federation is completely extirpated. But there is some good news: Muslim peoples are now recognizing this threat and doing something about it.
“We can observe,” the portal says, “among all Muslim peoples occupied by Russia a trend toward the rebirth of religious and political consciousness and the more the Russian colonizers try to extinguish this way, the stronger it is becoming.” Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has accelerated this development, Altyn Miras says.
Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at email@example.com .