Russia and Islam: The end of peaceful coexistence? Salafis and Moderates in Tatarstan

10 posts

Niccolo and Donkey
Russia and Islam -The end of peaceful coexistence?

The Economist

September 1, 2012


FOR years Tatarstan was held up as a model of stability and tranquillity as the Muslim-majority republics of the Russian north Caucasus became embroiled in a separatist conflict that spawned a still-continuing civil war along religious lines. More than half of Tatarstan’s 4m people are Sunni Muslims who have long enjoyed friendly relations with the rest of Russia. Kazan, the regional capital on the Volga river 450 miles (724km) east of Moscow, is a prosperous and attractive city.

That sense of calm has changed since July, when assassins shot dead a prominent Islamic leader, Valiulla Yakupov, and nearly killed Tatarstan’s chief mufti, Ildus Faizov, with a bomb detonated under his car. The exact motive remains unclear but many in Kazan seem to think it is related to the public campaign of both men to combat the rising influence of Salafism, a fundamentalist form of Islam.

In Soviet times, Islam in Tatarstan was largely a means of ethnic identification and had something of a “folk” character, says Akhmet Yarlykapov of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Yet in recent years Salafism, which has gained followers throughout the Muslim world, has made inroads in Tatarstan, especially among the young. Migrants from the republics of the north Caucasus and the post-Soviet countries of Central Asia have also spread more conservative interpretations of Islam.

Estimates of the number of Salafists in Tatarstan vary. A local mufti, Farid Salman, says the public figure of 3,000 is probably far too low. The older generation and those in official religious structures are wary of the Salafist groups, seeing them as imports and gateways to radicalisation. After he came to office in early 2011, Mr Faizov started to remove conservative imams and banned religious textbooks from Saudi Arabia, whereas his predecessor had largely left the Salafists alone.

Mr Salman warns of a “talibanisation on the borders of historic Europe”, but such fears are probably overblown. In many ways Tatarstan does not resemble the north Caucasus at all. The region is economically prosperous. Oil deposits and a successful manufacturing industry mean that Tatarstan sends more money to Moscow than it receives from the federal budget, unlike heavily-subsidised north Caucasus. Even more important, there is little tradition of the separatist feeling that is strong in Russia’s south; most Tatars feel closer to Russians than, for example, do many Chechens.

Worryingly, however, the authorities in Tatarstan have responded to the July attacks with new laws, passed in August, aimed against the Salafi community. These laws are similar to the infamous 1999 law banning Wahhabism in Dagestan, which, combined with aggressive law enforcement, greatly contributed to the growth of the militant underground.

The Kremlin is clearly loth to see another Muslim-majority region descend into anarchic violence. On August 28th a suicide bomber in Dagestan killed a respected Sufi scholar. This may well spur a new round of violence in what is already Russia’s most conflict-ridden republic. The attack came on the same day that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, visited Tatarstan to show his support for regional leaders. He declared roundly that “criminals will never achieve their despicable goals”.

Just how Moscow plans to make sure of this remains an open question. “Sooner or later the state will have to engage in dialogue with the Salafis,” says Alexei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center. But dialogue is not the Russian state’s habitual tool for dealing with social forces that it neither understands nor controls. The dual terror attacks of July are unlikely to be the last explosion or the last murder in Tatarstan.
Niccolo and Donkey

Bashkortostan and Tatarstan together will have a rise in Jihadism.

It's false that prosperity discourages separatism.

Cadavre Exquis
The Saudis will try their hardest to encourage this, no doubt - with the tepid approval from the US.

But no. Ties with Russia, historic and economic, run too deep for any rise in a significant jihadist movement.

You're right about prosperity, but it will be a case of Saudi oil money vs. native oil money. Have you ever met a Tatar or Bashkir? The moderates will win out.
The Saudis are not spreading Salafism anymore than the US is spreading Democracy.
The Saudi monarchy funds mosques and clerics to undermine Salafism. It's Saudi dissidents at the top who spread pure unapologetic, uncompromising Salafism of the AQ variety.
These nuances are lost on the same kind of people who say things like "Pakistan is supporting the Taliban and betraying the US". There is an internal struggle in Saudi Arabia for the very definition of Salafism. A royalty that bends religion like a medieval English King wanting to divorce his wife, and the OBL types who believe in it enough to die and won't have it altered for the pleasure of the head of state.

If the US wanted to piss in Russia's soup, it wouldn't have destroyed the Chechen version of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the Pankisi Gorge. A nice favor for Putin, Bush did, with Putin's blessing.

The Islamic North Caucasus doesn't have deep historic and economic ties with Russia?
All that matters is a difference in ethnicity, and some point of antagonizism between them. It really helps if the yoof are underemployed and resultingly incel, and the police abuse them. If that is ever the case in Idel-Ural, they'll be screaming Allahu Akbar overnight.

I don't underestimate "moderates" but if Putin loses their blessing, then the indifferent average Tatar will consent to and even cheer the crazed martyr seeking scraggle beard on his mission to dissintegrate himself in the presence of the same Russian boots that stomped all over Grozny.
Cadavre Exquis
The point is even the Saudi royalists are far more rigid in their interpretation than the prevailing Muslim institutions in these areas. That's what matters.

The Pankisi Gorge action was right before the Iraq War kicked off, to help ensure the Russians didn't oppose the war too fiercely.

The two areas are worlds apart in all sorts of facets.

Why would the average Tatar want to see bombings in their own back yard? Clearly you don't know what these people are like.

You might as well claim that the Maldivians are about to start chopping off more than the odd coconut.
Saudi government brand Salafism is more tame than even the Ikhwan.
Anyhow, Salafism is spreading into places like Tatarstan because of the internet and local dissatisfaction with the old 'moderates'. It's backwards thinking Salafism causes radicalization. These yoof are becoming radical and then claiming adherence to Salafism. The Saudi funded mouthpieces try to throw a blanket on their fire wherever they can.
Westerners imagine Saudi mosques preaching Jihad, but the reality is that the Jihadis are the opposition.

It was to tie Georgia more closely to America, and Putin accepted it because it promised to eliminate the Chechen refuge across the border without having to lift a finger. If the US had any intent of backing Jihadists against Russia it wouldn't have done this. Even against the Soviets in Afghanistan the US didn't support Jihadists, but the secularist Seven Party Alliance.

The Urals have a history of revolt against the Russians, they can take back to it.

To force Russia into granting "average Tatars" whatever they like. Manila has been giving hand jobs to Moros for years to keep them from embracing the Abu Sayyaf path.

They might. You're not aware of what's been happening in the Maldives?
Niccolo and Donkey
This is where you get completely retarded.

The Saudi regime funds these mosques for the Salafists to keep them out of Saudi Arabia. It's part of the grand bargain that was struck after the failed revolt.

Every mosque that the Saudis fund is done in the Wahhabist-minimalist style and Salafism appears where it has never been seen.
Niccolo and Donkey
More retardation. The Pankisi Gorge was the transit route for Salafists into Chechnya. It was to keep the fire burning in Russia's periphery and within its borders.
niccolo and donkey

There was no "grand bargain". So the Saudi regime is funding the rise of Islamists who hate the Saudi regime? It's ridiculous. the same Salafis fighting in Homs and killing moderate clerics in Tatarstan are the ones who would storm Mecca and plant black flags all over it if only they could. These are the same guys who would collectively orgasm if they could do to the Saudi family what they did to Gaddafi.
There is a schiism within Salafism, pro-Saudi monarch and anti. The monarch is trying to lasso the sect wherever it can, to keep the copyright on it. It buys off clerics, pays for mosque construction. But these mosques are being thrown down like poison roach motels.

Closing the Pankisi Gorge killed the fire in Chechnya! That's why Putin approved of it. Imagine if Russia went into Waziristan to crush the Taliban sanctuary as a favor to NATO. That's what Bush did for Moscow.