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Migrants from Central Asia bring radical Islam to Russia

November 05, 2014, 17:17 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, November 5. /TASS/. The more migrants from Central Asia will be coming to Russia, the greater the risk of expansion of radical Islam and the emergence of Islamic enclaves inside the country, experts warn. All this endangers national security.

The proliferation of radical Islam among migrants is the latest trend observed in migration into Russia, runs the report titled Migration as a Challenge to the National Security of Russia, authored by the National Strategy Institute.

According to the survey, new migration waves are noticeably different from what they used to be just recently in terms of ethnic composition and the far lower level of education and skills. Moreover, about two-thirds of migrants who settle in Russia on a permanent basis are from Central Asia.

The report emphasizes a number of “symptoms indicating that the Islamist threat is being fuelled with external migration, such as intensive activities by Islamic preachers, extremist and terrorist groups from Central Asia on the territory of Russia, the conversion of Central Asian migrants into the main contingent for recruiting newcomers into the radical Islamist groups, and frequent conflicts between local Muslims and migrants of the same faith."

Islamic preachers who are sometimes involved in sabotage and terrorism, arrive in Russia mostly from Central Asia — Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, the president of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, told TASS. All these countries have far harsher legal restrictions on radical Islam than Russia. “Here they enjoy far greater freedom,” Remizov added.

“Preachers are flooding the central part of the country and also regions close to the Urals,” the chief of the Religion and Society information and analysis center, Alexey Grishin, told the daily Novyie Izvestia. “They are forcing out local clergy from mosques, get into the higher bodies of Russia’s Muslim boards and the bodies of power.”

“A large mass of poorly versed young Muslims is the ideal environment for the propaganda of radical ideas,” Remizov said. “One the one hand, they help express protest sentiment, and on the other, bolster one’s self-esteem.”

The flow of migrants reflects the relationship between Russia’s traditional, moderate version of Islam and Salafi radicals, giving the latter a far firmer foothold. “The more migrants from Central Asia will be coming to Russia, the greater the strength of the so-called ‘pure’ Islam, devoid of national roots, and those of its adepts who profess the idea ‘Islam above all’.”

One should give up hope those migrants whom the guest preachers have managed to “brainwash” will be eager to travel back home. “The borderline between temporary and permanent migration is very thin and very migrants will be staying here. In Russia, they find a far better environment where to press for their radical religious views, than, say, in Uzbekistan.”

Potentially this is a "fifth column," Remizov said. They support the Islamic State as an idea, which enables Islamists to gain control of large territories and enclaves. “In the Volga River area, migrants account for an ever greater part of the congregation. There are other zones very vulnerable from that point of view — raw materials extracting provinces where there are prerequisites for creating Islamist enclaves. For instance, there are the Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets autonomous districts. Reports of inter-ethnic clashes have been coming from there on a regular basis.”

Remizov believes it is necessary to take very harsh measures to ward off such threats. He believes it is important to reserve a special article of the Criminal Code for religious extremism and to establish a stronger punishment for this offense. Also, tight restrictions must be imposed on the migration flow from Central Asia. “Otherwise, the problem will be getting worse as more migrants will acquire Russian citizenship."

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