Sunday, December 19, 2010

Window on Eurasia: To Block Rise of Islam in Russia, Moscow Sets Up ‘Puppet’ Muftiate, Gainutdin Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, December 19 – To block the rise of Islam in the Russian Federation, the Russian state has set up a state-controlled muftiate much as the Soviet authorities did, according to Ravil Gainutdin, the head of the Council of Muftis of Russia (SMR), a statement that has sparked predictable outrage among many Muslim leaders.
But another comment by Gainutdin to the effect that the degradation of the Russian nation into alcoholism and sloth is the reason that Moscow has had to allow so many Muslim immigrants to come to do the work of the country has generated even more anger among a broader range of people.
In an interview to the Tatar Service of Radio Liberty that has been reproduced in numerous Russian Federation news portals, Gainutdin says that the Russian state is trying to block the unification of Muslims from below and to “put down Islam in Russia” by setting up its own “marionette” muftiates (
Gainutdin points out that a year ago, the powers that be in Moscow had blocked efforts by Talgat Tajuddin, the head of the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD), Ismail Berdiyev, the head of the Coordinating Center of Muslims of the North Caucasus and himself to organize a unified MSD for Russia as a whole.”
Such a step, the SMR chief said they were told, “did not correspond to the policy of the state.”
But a few weeks ago, state-controlled “pocket” muftis, “dirty people” who Gainutdin says are working against the gro wth of Islam in Russia, formed a new fourth centralized MSD not as a step toward real unity but in order to “put down Islam” in Russia or at least “to stop its growth.”
In his Tatar Service interview, Gainutdin also suggested that the disorders in Moscow and other Russian cities have been “organized by forces who are against the growth of Islam,” that they “clearly show a negative attitude” toward Islam on the part of the powers that be, and that Muslims in Russia now feel “very strong pressure” from the state.
Indeed, Gainutdin continues, “the catastrophe as a result of which so many people have landed in hospitals and the bloody uprisings themselves are the result of the activities of forces who are attempting to reduce the role of Muslims in Russia.”
Not surprisingly given past practice, almost the entire rest of the senior leadership of the Russian Muslim community denounced Gainutdin for these remarks, with most dismissing them as untrue and others suggesting that they will only further enflame the already tense situation in Russia ( and
But Gainutdin’s comments in Moscow about the Russian population generated far broader and more severe criticism. The SMR head said that “the influx of migrants into the country was a forced measure,” the result of a situation in which “the indigenous population does not want to work” (
To deal with that, Gainutdin suggested, “Russia was forced to invite in migrants” because “they don’t get drunk, they are disciplined, and they love to work. If they receive their pay, they send it home to feed their families” rather than spend it on themselves as Russian workers often do.
“Today,” he continued, “Russian villages are being destroyed, they are disappearing. One need not search for the fault in migrants” as many of the protesters do. These immigrants are “in fact our slaves; they come to work for us. We ourselves out to work and create good things for our Fatherland.”
“Over the course of 20 years, we have educated [in the Russian Federation] a generation of young people which does not love to work but rather likes to watch pornography, drink, take drugs, and party in clubs – not one of those who goes out into the field to sow and then bring in the harvest.”
In this situation, Gainutdin concluded, “those nationalists which call for driving out of Russia all migrants and all who are ‘not ours’ have begun the task of destroying the Russian Federation,” comments that various leaders religious and otherwise attacked in the sharpest terms (
In support of their criticism on both points, some of the leaders provided some interesting details. Tajuddin, for example, insisted that Gainutdin’s words “do not correspond to the truth,” something he said was obvious to anyone who looked at what had been happening among Muslims over the last generation (
“I have occupied the position of chairman of the Central MSD more than 30 years,” the mufti continued, “and I can speak about how everything has changed over this period. We Muslims of Russia had only 94 , and the Muslims of the USSR about 300 mosques” at the end of Soviet times.
“Now there are more than 7500 mosques. That is a growth of more than 70 times. In Bashkortostan alone, there were 16 and are now 1016, [and] in Tatarstan, there were 15 and are now 1300.” Given that growth in the number of mosques, Tajuddin asked rhetorically, how can one speak about pressure against Islam in Russia?

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