Centralized Religious Organization Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia with the support of the Russian Association for Protection of Religious Freedom
Expert report “Issues of respecting Muslims’ rights in Russia”
The Islamic dimension of Russian domestic and foreign policy
In today’s world, more than 1.7 billion people are Muslims, which makes about 25% of the entire global population. Muslim communities are present in more than 120 countries, with 35 of them representing the most numerous national religious communities. With the growing globally popularity of Islam (including the increasing number of Muslims in the European Union countries and the post-Soviet republics), the entire range of the issues related to the development of this world religion (from those in the field of culture and education to security and armed conflicts) has become one of the most topical global problems .
Islam in Russia is a historical phenomenon and the second major religion in the contemporary country. With its centuries-old history and traditions, Islam is an organic and inseparable element of Russian sovereignty, culture, and people’s everyday life.
For the Russian Federation, the problem of interconfessional relations is extremely important in the context of analyzing the country’s post-Soviet identity formation after 1991, not mentioning the outlooks of its political stability and role in the international scene. Today’s Russia is a multi-ethnical and multiconfessional state with its ethnic-based administrative regions (republics and autonomous territories (“okrugs”)) formed based on peoples’ ethnical identity (Chechen Republic, Republic of Tatarstan, Republic of Bashkortostan and other), which have close relations with Muslim traditions. Today, in terms of quantity, Russia’s Muslim population is quite considerable. According to demographic data, the figure (depending on the criteria used) varies between 6 to 14 million people. While the representatives of Russian Islam claim it to be 20 million. The number of Muslim labor migrants from Central Asia and Transcaucasia is also increasing . The 20 million figure was also voiced by Russian President Vladimir Putin .
In 1937, in the Soviet Union, Muslims accounted for 5.9 percent of the population; in the Russian Federation, the figure made 7.9 percent in 1989, and more than 8 percent in 1994. Presently, according to various estimates of domestic experts, the figure may vary from 10 to 15 percent of Russia’s population.
The range of Muslim population in Russia is not evenly spread, with Islam followers’ concentrated in North Caucuses and Volga Region. In seven of 85 Russian regions, Muslims make the majority of local population: 98% in Ingushetia, 96% in Chechnya, 94% in Dagestan, 70% in Kabardino-Balkaria, 63% in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, 54.5% in Bashkortostan, and 54% in Tatarstan. Muslims also account for a visible religious component in Astrakhan Region (26%) and North Ossetia (21%) .
According to Federal Law “On the freedom of conscience and on religious associations”, Islam is treated as a “traditional religion” recognized equally as Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, and Judaism and as a part of Russia’s general “historical and cultural legacy” .
The Islamic religious “renaissance” in Russia has become an integral part of the social and political democratization during the “perestroika” and further in the post-Soviet period. The state’s official policy of atheism during the Soviet era had died, and Islam, as other traditional religions, had been given its legitimate space in the Russian society.
From then on, religion as a whole (and Islam in particular) had turned into a crucial identity component at various levels, serving both as a marker of confession and ethnicity. With that approach, the commitment to Islam was treated both as the manifestation of a believer’s feelings and a component of their ethnic and civil self-identity. While on the mass conscience level, today Islam is perceived as the return to predecessors’ national traditions and, at the same time, as the matter of an individual’s choice.
Despite the seven decades of the Soviet era, Islam is still a powerful religion in the territory of the former Soviet Union, including Russia. Thousands of mosques have been built and old religious structures have been reconstructed. Obstacles preventing the free communication between fellow believers (former Soviet citizens and Muslims of the world) have been eliminated. After opening the boards, believers from Russian regions could make hajj pilgrimage travels to Mecca (Medina), study in Islamic educational institutions (institutes, madrassahs) and have an unobstructed access to religious literature and periodicals.
The artificial political isolation of Russian Muslims from the global Islamic Ummah had weakened their involvement in intellectual and theological debates that were taking place among Muslims from other parts of the world (Middle East, North Africa, South-East Asia). But the “perestroika” and the collapse of the Soviet Union had accelerated the restoration of the lost connections and Russian Muslims’ familiarization with various Islamic movements, mainly from the Arabic world, Turkey and Iran. The migration flows from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia (primarily Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) and Azerbaijan have also affected Islam in Russia . As a result, in almost three decades since the collapse of the USSR, Russian Muslims had been able to establish stable relations with foreign fellow believers and significantly expand the interaction with the Islamic world .
The de-isolation of Russian Muslims has had both positive and negative implications: the positive ones include restoring traditions, overcoming artificial social and cultural isolation, and protecting the rights of believers. Among other positive consequences are the growing activity of Islam in the fields of charity and spiritual and moral education of believers, its contribution to social stability and strengthening the foundations of the family and universal spiritual and moral values.
In recent years, attempts have been made to adopt conceptual documents promoting understanding serious theological issues, forming a common position in determining the place and role of Islam, and the unification of Muslims of Russia: “Tatars and the Islamic world: conceptual foundations of functioning and development” (2013), “Russian Muslims’ social doctrine” (2015), and “The Grozny fatwa” (2016) which are aimed at developing concepts on the most important issues of Islamic theology and relations between the state and religion.
But, in addition to this, religious liberalization brought the politicization of Islam , the influence of radical, extremist, and anti-state movements, and the discovery of the jihadist practices. Politicization of Islam fuels its radical ideas, encourages the spread of quasi-religious extremism, and violates the principles of tolerance.
In today’s Russia, the issue of Islam is a topical one, both for the domestic and foreign policy. After the collapse of the USSR, the North Caucasus (in which the Muslim population prevails in all national republics, with the exception of North Ossetia) became the most turbulent region in the post-Soviet space. Moreover, since the beginning of the 2000s, quasi-religious extremism has replaced the ethnic separatism as threat No.1 to the unity of the Russian state and society.
This has changed the geography of “hot spots” in the North Caucasus. If the 1990s and early 2000s saw Chechnya as the most dangerous region, as of the beginning of 2019 Dagestan, the largest and most populated locality in the North Caucasus, is holding that “title” (although over the recent decade, Chechnya used to have been leading that rating during several quarters) .
However, despite the relations with the world-known terrorist structures (Al-Qaida and ISIS / DAISH which are banned in Russia), extremists failed to plunge the Russian Caucasus into the abyss of chaos. By the number of victims of hostilities (and terrorist incidents), the North Caucasus republics have not regained the figures of 2012 (meaning, since the moment of recording the start of a steady decline in those numbers). After a series of terrorist attacks in Volgograd and Stavropol Territory, on the eve of the new 2014, the extremist underground did not carry out large-scale attacks outside the North Caucasus Federal District (NCFD).
Representatives of the traditional Islamic clergy have been playing, and preserve, a significant role in stabilizing the ethnic and political situation in the region. In particular, it is worth noting their contribution to the dialogue with unofficial Muslim groups, as well as efforts to return to peaceful life those young people who have been influenced by extremists.
Under the auspices of the Coordination Center for Muslims of the North Caucasus (CSMNC), various projects are being implemented in the region themed “Islam is the religion of peace and the good”, aimed at demonstrating the true image of Islam, preventing extremism, and strengthening relations between state and religion. Extensive work is under way on a regular basis in pre-trial detention centers and jails, with lectures, seminars, workshops, and round tables delivered. In 2019, regional branches of the “United Caucasus” (“Druzhnyy Kavkaz”) club were formed in each sub-area under CSMNC’s supervision and an interregional youth forum is held to strengthen interethnic and interconfessional relations among Caucasian youth.
On the basis of the SAM (Spiritual Administration of Muslims) of Chechnya, contests “Best Quran reader in the North Caucasus” and “North Caucasus hafiz of the year” are held. Implementation of popular project “Ethnical religious tourism” continues offering visits to large mosques, hafiz schools, ziyarts of famous theologians, as well as an educational program engaging spiritual mentors. Innovative CSMNC Sports Festival held in North Ossetia titled “Relay of peace and brotherhood” proved to be a success having gathered together athletes from 10 CSMNC member regions, including a large delegation from Ingushetia .
The leaders of the North Caucasus and Volga regions of Russia have started taking an active part in Russian foreign policy, especially in Transcaucasia and the Middle East (including Afghanistan). With their help, Russia seeks to maximize its presence in the strategically important regions, which fits into the “turn to the East” policy and, in general, the diversification of the country’s international relations.
One should also bear in mind that after the integration of the Crimea (a territory of 27 thousand square kilometers with 2 million inhabitants) with Russia in 2014, the Russian Federation has acquired as its new citizens Crimean Tatars, who make up about 12% of the total population of the peninsula . The majority of them are Sunni Muslims who have a complex and contradictory relationship with Russia, due to the peculiarities of the historical past (first of all, the negative memories of deportation initiated by Stalin in 1944). Nevertheless, in general, the Crimea is being integrated successfully, without sharp bursts of interethnic and religious conflicts.
Mufti of Crimea Emirali Ablaev shares the position of Russian Islamic clergy and authorities regarding the need to restrain religious radicalism and limit the access of foreign preachers who distribute foreign ideas and exploit the values of Islam . Together with Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea, Lazarus, he condemned once the blockade of the peninsula organized by Mejlis organization (an extremist structure banned in the Russian Federation) .
In May 2019, by order of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea, the Republic’s Spiritual Administration of Muslims received, for free use, the immovable property included in the religious and cultural complex “Zyndzhyrly Madrassah” in Bakhchisarai. It is a higher Islamic educational institution founded by Khan Mengli Girey in 1500 considered one of the oldest Islamic religious educational institutions that have survived in the territory of the Russian Federation. Ismail Gasprinskiy, famous Crimean Tatar leader, used to work and teach Russian here in the 70s of the 19th century .
Russian authorities’ policy towards Islam is based on several principles. The state authorities constantly declare the need for an interconfessional dialogue, and the Russian project itself is positioned as a dialogue of various cultures and peoples. Thus, in his famous “Crimean speech” in March 2014, Vladimir Putin said that in Russia “not a single ethnic group has disappeared over centuries” .
At the same time, as to the Islam-related issues, the Kremlin and regional authorities are focused on supporting the loyal clergy, namely, the centralized religious organizations of Muslims (Muslim spiritual authorities) of individual Russian regions or the coordinating federal structures supported by the state.
The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the Russian post-Soviet identity has not been formed yet; it is a complex and painful process of searching and reconsidering at the new stage of mastering the imperial and Soviet legacy, as well as at the new stage of the relations between the state and various groups (ethnic, religious, and social).
The foreign policy of the Russian Federation features an important “Islamic” component too. Russia is highly concerned about strengthening the radical forces exploiting the so-called idea of “pure Islam” beyond the country, as well as about the possibilities of cooperation between them and Russian radicals. As a result, the country showed an extremely discreet (and sometimes sharply negative) attitude towards the events of the “Arab spring”, which followed by strengthening of political Islam and extremist sentiments in the Middle East and North Africa.
It is also here one should look for the roots for supporting the government of Bashar al-Assad during the civil confrontation in Syria, as well as for supporting the Egyptian authorities, led by Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, opposing the radicals. Moscow sees the secular regimes in the Middle East (despite their inherent corruption and authoritarianism) as guarantors of preventing threats to international security.
Russia’s foreign policy pays much attention to Eurasian integration. Meanwhile, in the post-Soviet space, Islam is practiced by the majority of population in the republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus: 93% in Uzbekistan, about 95% in Tajikistan, 65% in Kazakhstan, about 83% in Kyrgyzstan, more than 99% in Turkmenistan, and 99.2% in Azerbaijan . Three of those countries are strategic allies of Russia as members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan).
Kazakhstan is one of the founders and members of the Customs and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Kyrgyzstan has become the fifth member of this integration structure, and Tajikistan has applied for membership in it. Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan are important partners of Russia on issues of economic security. As a result, Russia shows considerable interest in maintaining political stability in these countries and preventing both possible “Arab scenarios” and possible “export” of terrorist threats from Afghanistan.
The threat from radical politicized Islam in general, and especially from ISIS (which is banned in Russia), remains one of the few issues today on which the United States (and the West in general) and Russia still have opportunities for cooperation, despite the general negative dynamics in their relations.
At the same time, Russia is trying to play an important role in the Islamic world, emphasizing that a Muslim identity is an important part of the all-Russian identity. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, “traditional Islam is an essential part of the Russian cultural code, and the Muslim Ummah, undoubtedly, is a very important part of the Russian multinational people” . In 2005, Russia acted as an observer at the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference, now renamed the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation”). Russia is also trying to act as a mediator between East and West, which has been particularly manifested in its involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement process and negotiations on Iran and its “nuclear program”, as well as in the resolution of the long-term civil conflict in Syria.
Presently, Russia has been able to establish balanced constructive relations with key Islamic countries of the world: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. It should be noted that many countries of the Islamic East have consistently supported the territorial integrity of the Russian state and treated the religious radicals of the North Caucasus as their ideological opponents; moreover, they initiated criminal cases against terrorists originating from Middle Eastern states involved in extremist activities in the territory of the Russian Federation .
Russia also maintains relations with such political groups as Hamas and Hezbollah, who have a reputation of terrorists and radicals in the West and Israel. Given the Ukrainian crisis and the growing confrontation with the West, it is extremely important to diversify the country’s foreign policy.
In this regard, it seems that a top priority is preserving harmonious relations between representatives of various peoples and confessions inhabiting Russia, as well as ensuring the effectiveness of the state’s national and religious policies. However, without addressing the human rights issues on a comprehensive basis, reaching these goals will be at least a challenge.
Meanwhile, in fact, the observance of Muslims’ rights has not been studied as an independent problem, being considered only as part of the general human rights reports, where the nuances relating specifically to Russian Muslims are lost, or those issues are considered in the context of “excessive efforts” of anti-terrorist campaigns. “Securitization” also oversimplifies the problem of respecting the rights of Muslim believers, and fuels negative social stereotypes.
According to Ildar Nurimanov, an employee of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims (SAM) of the Russian Federation, the most important problem in Muslim human rights protection is the lack of institutes that could systematically handle this issue: “Oddly enough, our President, Vladimir Putin, is the main Muslim human rights defender. He’s left behind not only the authorities, who are officially charged with the task to protect the interests of citizens, but also the Muslims themselves” .
This expert report has been prepared by an expert group of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia (SAMR) based on publicly available information. It systematizes the main challenges in the field of respecting the rights of Russian Muslims, describes the main resonant social events, and gives the examples of ambiguous court rulings, discriminatory practices of administrative or bureaucratic nature (issues of restitution and construction of religious buildings), the issues of observing the rights of believers in the penal system, as well as of political Islamophobia.
This report is considered the first pilot project. It describes the main “bottlenecks” and the most resonant social events. In the future, it is planned to expand the subject matter of reports and analyze the problems identified in more detail. It is planned to prepare the report on the rights of Muslims in the Russian Federation annually.
Court rulings banning Islamic religious literature
The foundation for any believer’s faith is the corpus of scriptures. In the case of Russian Muslims, for many years there has been such problem as courts’ practice to ban religious texts.
According to Mufti Mukhammad Rakhimov, Head of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Stavropol Territory, “the Russian legal system is sick, and the sickness is in that opinions about Islamic sacred texts are issued by people who do not have the relevant knowledge or appropriate qualifications, and that district courts have the right to impose an all-Russian ban on books. They ask an opinion from people without relevant education, neither philological nor spiritual, but such people’s words are the ground to ban the literature” .
According to Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, Albir Krganov, “a decision to ban the translation of the Quran may be of value to the “academia”, but it is very difficult to explain to ordinary believers why the court has banned the interpretation of the book, which is holy for Muslims. Many believers simply do not understand the prohibition of the interpretation of the Quran. We have to be more attentive to such sensitive things, and here, of course, we, the public, must raise our voice in order to resolve this situation together” .
On September 17, 2013, the Oktyabrsky District Court of Novorossiysk ruled to ban the semantic translation of the Quran into Russian by the Azerbaijani scholar Elmir Kuliev, published in 2002 in Saudi Arabia. Four appeals have been filed against the court’s decision: by lawyer Murad Musaev (representative of the Quran’s translator Elmir Kuliev), lawyer from the city of Saratov Ravil Tugushev, Mufti of Adygea and Krasnodar Territory Askarbiy Kardanov, and a group of Muslims of Saratov Region. Three months later, the district court’s ruling was reversed by the Krasnodar Territory Court .
On August 12, 2015, the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk City Court recognized as extremist the book “Prayer (Dua) to God: its importance and place in Islam”, which consists of translation of the Quran ayats and sayings attributed to Prophet Muhammad. On September 8, a copy of the court ruling was distributed on the Internet provoking vast discontent among Muslims in Russia. The leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, appealed against the ruling of the court of the first instance, which resulted in the ruling’s review and reversal by the Sakhalin Regional Court on November 5 .
In fact, in response to this incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a federal law banning the recognition of texts from the Bible, Quaran, Tanakh, and Kangyur as extremist materials. The law was proposed by the President on October 14 and signed on November 23, 2015. This initiative of Vladimir Putin was supported by the leaders of various confessions in Russia .
In January 2019, Samara’s Prosecutor’s Office demanded that Muslim literature be recognized as extremist materials in court. Among the texts was a book with an interpretation of the Quran translated by Azerbaijani religious philosopher Elmir Kuliev. The case on the recognition of a number of tafsirs (interpretations) of the Quran as extremist literature was accepted for proceedings by the Krasnoglinsky District Court of Samara. Similar proceedings had been initiated under the lawsuit of the Volga Transport Prosecutor’s Office in the Laishevo District Court of Tatarstan. The situation was aggravated by the fact that Head of the Council of Muftis of Russia (CMR) Ravil Gainutdin and the Saratov Mufti Mukaddas Bibarsov supported the disputed tafsirs, opposed by the representatives of the Head of the Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims Talgat Tadzhutdin .
The problem of interpreting the rest of the religious literature remains relevant. In the case of Islam, we are talking about hadiths or classical biographies of Prophet Muhammad which are also the fundamental sources of Islam and are inconceivable without the Quran . Meanwhile, a selection of quotes from al-Bukhari hadiths about jihad was banned by the ruling of the Apastovo District Court of Tatarstan in 2015. The same edition of “The gardens of the righteous” which in 2019 became the reason for the hearings at the Laishevo District Court of Tatarstan, was recognized as extremist in Orenburg in 2012, with the reversal of the ban in 2015. However, in 2014, “The gardens of the righteous” were banned by the ruling of the Artyomovsky City Court of Sverdlovsk Region. In December 2018, the book was included in the Federal List under No. 4645 for an unclear reason .
The construction and return of mosques: bureaucratic and social obstacles
The most important issue of observing the rights of Muslim believers is the access to places of worship. According to Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia Albir Krganov, “the shortage of mosques is really acute in our capital, this is obvious. Even for the indigenous population, Muscovite Muslims, four mosques are clearly not enough. New sites for the construction of mosques have not been allocated for more than 20 years! One should remember that the doors of mosques are always open to all our fellow believers, brothers in faith. We are not going to create a supernatural Muslim quarter in the capital. Creating religious or ethnic ghettos is not our path. At the request of believers, and given the importance of educating our youth according to religious traditions, we want to build a modern educational center with a quality infrastructure. It is a matter of satisfaction of reasonable needs of believers and a duly guaranteed freedom of conscience of Muslims. It’s no secret that there is still no culture, leisure, and education center for Muslims in Moscow” .
Unfortunately, today there is a problem of general suspicion towards the manifestations of Muslim culture (in the broad sense of the word), both within the authorities at various levels and in certain circles of Russian society. There are xenophobic sentiments too, and attempts to reason the reluctance to build new mosques or Islamic centers by threats of social and political destabilization or concerns that it would foster extremist sentiments. At the local level, it has become a widespread practice to seize the land previously allocated for building on the pretext that the previous municipal administration had allocated it illegally. While, according to various expert estimates, if 6,000 new mosques were built in Russia in the foreseeable future, we would have reached the level of 1920, although then the Muslim population of the country was much smaller than in today’s Russia. Currently, more than 8,000 newly built or restored mosques function in the country .
In Yekaterinburg, the issue of allocating a site for the construction of a mosque was put on the agenda in 2006. At that time, the city’s Muslim community was allocated a certain spot in the center to build a mosque. The plan was to eventually build the “Square of peace and concord”. But the official land transfer had never occurred. Out of several resulting lawsuits, the community won only one. As a result, the land was awarded to Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC). In July 2019, the regional authorities announced the allocation of a land plot to the Muslim community, however, not in the center of Yekaterinburg, but in Sortirovka district, and not in addition to the existing temporary structures (prayer houses), but instead of them .
In May 2019, in Chernyakhovsk (Kaliningrad Region) a Muslim house of worship was demolished, as the court decided that the building had been built illegally. This was the only place where Muslims could come together for prayer, since there is not a single mosque in western Russia, and the regional Muslims’ organization has been seeking permission to build one for almost 15 years with no luck. The demolished building was the property of the family of Russian Muslims, Artur Rusyaev and Irina Rusyaeva, and was recorded among the assets of an individual entrepreneur (registered in the name of one of them) . The demolition resulted in filing an appeal by Artur Rusyaev with the European Court of Human Rights.
Another problem in the territory of the westernmost region of the Russian Federation exists in Kaliningrad itself. A mosque was supposed to be built in the territory of the South Park, and the construction had commenced. However, in 2014, despite the fact that all permits had been issued to the Muslim community, they were declared illegal in court. After a series of attempts to challenge this verdict, the religious organization filed a statement with the European Court of Human Rights, which is still under consideration.
A difficult situation is developing in Moscow, too. In each of 2018 and 2019, more than 250 thousand Muslims attended solemn services in the capital’s mosques on the occasion of Uraza-bayram. Only four public mosques are currently operating in Moscow, with the largest of them, Cathedral Mosque (on Mira Avenue), offering only a 10,000 people capacity. In November 2018, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin confirmed the possibility of building another, fifth mosque in the territory of New Moscow. Earlier it has been also reported that, in 2019, the City could allocate a land spot in Troitsky Administrative Area of New Moscow to build an interconfessional complex, where Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism would coexist in a single territory. If built, such center would become the third one in the capital, along with the complexes on Poklonnaya Gora (“the Hill of Respectful Salutation”) and in Otradnoye District .
In September 2018, representatives of the Islamic community (SAMR) asked Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Patriarch Kirill to build a mosque near the main temple of the Russian Armed Forces in Patriot Park in Kubinka town. “We really hope that a decision will be made to approve the construction of a mosque next to the future Orthodox church, because the role of people, who practiced other religions, in the Great Patriotic War was great, and today Muslims and representatives of other religions are serving in Syria,” said then Albir Krganov.
While the Ministry of Defense informed of their readiness to consider Muslims’ initiative, the Moscow Patriarchate’s reaction to this proposal was more than discreet. “If the request comes from a lot of people, military personnel, it’s probably worth considering. But the project [in this particular territory] may be trying to tell another story, of our heroic past related to the special role of Orthodoxy”, said the spokesman for Patriarch Kirill, priest Aleksandr Volkov .
The capital of Kuban, Krasnodar, still has no mosque, with the nearest one located in the village of Yablonovsky (Takhtamukaysky district of the Republic of Adygea). It has a 500 people capacity; while more than three thousand believers gather for a prayer in honor of the holidays of Uraza-bayram or Kurban-bayram. According to the imam of the mosque, Asfar Myss, “[in fact,] the issue of building a mosque in Krasnodar has not been raised, same as the issue of returning the building of the historical mosque, which is now a residential house” . The said building was built (the city was then called Yekaterinodar) by a Circassian merchant and patron of the arts Liu Trakhov, who funded and built asylums, mosques, channels, and a dam in the vicinity of Yablonovsky and Novy Sad farms, as well as the bridge over the Kuban river. Even in the multinational city of Sochi, a mosque was built only in 2017.
In Stavropol, a debate continues whether to return the building of the historical mosque to the Muslim community, which has been home for the regional art gallery since 1987. According to the leader of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, Mufti Albir Krganov, “officials have come up with a far-fetched reason saying that this mosque, although having been built, had never been officially opened due to the revolution. However, this approach is unreasonable, because Muslims built that mosque using their own money, and built it to be the house of the Almighty, and prayers were offered up there!” .
For many years, the Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Rostov Region (Mufti Dzhafar Bikmaev) tried to regain the land and building in 97 Krasnoarmeyskaya Street in Rostov, where an abandoned military club is located at the said address now. The club was built on the site of the former Cathedral Mosque, which was constructed in 1905 with money donated by Rostov Muslims. In 1963, by decision of the city executive committee, the building was nationalized and transferred to the nearest military unit. In 1978, the mosque was partially destroyed, the dome and minaret were demolished and then rebuilt into a soldier’s club. Rostov Muslims, referring to the federal law providing for the transfer of state-owned historical immovable property to religious organizations, claimed the building in court, but lost the case. In fall 2017, the Rostov’s municipal administration offered the disputed building for sale for 29 million rubles. The Muslim community of the city also planned to take part in the auction, but, at the last moment, the auction was canceled for unnamed reasons. Now, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation is trying to take away the building and the land plot from the municipal administration .
In Ulyanovsk, the local Muslim community has long been fighting to have back the illegally taken building of the Historical Mosque, a monument of architecture built by Tatar factory owner Akchurin in 1853. In the 1930s, it served as the Tatar Club, and in 1940 it was transferred to the City Council and turned into a bakery .
In Soviet times, a planetarium operated at the site of the Shiite mosque in Vladikavkaz (the capital of the Republic of North Ossetia (Alania)). The mosque was built in the 1870s. In 1992, the planetarium was closed for a long-term reconstruction to open in 2020. While the High Spiritual Authority of the Republic has repeatedly raised the issue of the authorities’ reluctance to transfer the mosque’s building to the Muslim community .
Murders of Islamic spiritual leaders
Among most serious challenges to interconfessional and interethnic harmony in Russia are murders of the spiritual authorities of Islam, as well as the assassination and provocations against them. To a large extent, the leaders of traditional religions in Russia are today at the forefront of combating extremist and xenophobic ideologies and practices. They are the very persons who are trying to calm down with their words the minds of people when acute conflicts arise. Largely owing to their efforts, a unique, while underestimated, experience has been accumulated in the prevention of interethnic and interconfessional disagreements. As Mufti Albir Krganov rightly remarks, “the tragedy consists in that today some forces want to undermine society in Muslim regions of Russia at cost of people’s lives. After all, those who are behind the killings of reputable Muslim figures are pursuing exactly the goal of agitating the Islamic community” .
Only in 2009–2016, 45 Islamic spiritual leaders were killed in the North Caucasus. Attempted assassinations on the leaders of Muslims of Russia have been recorded in the Volga Region too (in the Republic of Tatarstan, which is rightfully considered the territory of interconfessional peace). This report describes most resonant tragic cases.
On May 25, 2009, in Makhachkala, Akhmed-haji Tagaev, Deputy Mufti of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Dagestan, was killed.
On September 20, 2009, Ismail-hadji Bostanov, Deputy Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Karachay-Cherkessia and Stavropol, rector of the local Islamic Institute (he was one of its founders and had been serving as its rector for ten years) was killed on the outskirts of Cherkessk. During this terrorist attack, Bostanov’s son was also wounded .
On October 3, 2009, a well-known Russian religious leader, Murtazali Magomedov, was shot; he was the only doctor of sharia sciences in Russia and the CIS at that time. He lived in Komsomolskoye village in Kyzylyurt district of Dagestan. Magomedov died from his wounds on the spot .
On December 15, 2010, Anas Pshikhachev, Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kabardino-Balkaria, was killed in the courtyard of his building in Nalchik. He was one of the most influential spiritual leaders of both the KBR and Russia as a whole, he wrote more than 50 monographs on theological and legal issues, and had developed an educational program for higher religious institutions. By decree of the President of Russia, he was posthumously awarded the Order of Courage bearing the following wording: “For courage in the performance of civic duty” .
On April 20, 2011, in the courtyard of his own house in Averyanovka village (Kizlyar district, Dagestan), Nuri Ramazanov, Islamic leader, active Sufi preacher, and imam of the mosque in Borozdinovskaya village (Chechnya), was killed with automatic weapons.
On June 7, 2011, in Makhachkala, rector of the Institute of Theology and International Relations Maksud Sadikov and his nephew were shot dead by unknown killers. Sadikov was one of the initiators of establishing the Institute of Theology and International Relations, the first educational institution in the North Caucasus offering students both secular and religious education.
On October 27, 2011, in Khurik village (Tabasaran district of Dagestan), Sirazhutdin Israfilov (Sirazhutdin of Khurik), a well-known religious figure who opposed heavily the extremist movements of Islam, was shot .
On February 13, 2012, in Pyatigorsk, Deputy Mufti of Stavropol Territory and famous Islamic religious activist Kurman Ismailov died in a car explosion .
On June 28, 2012, in Kirovaul village (Kyzylyurt district, Dagestan), famous Islamic scholar Magomedkhabib Zaurbekov was killed with a sniper shot to the heart .
On July 19, 2012, a double terrorist attack was committed in the capital of Tatarstan, Kazan. Famous Islamic theologian and head of the educational department of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan, Valiulla-hazrat Yakupov, was killed. Fifteen minutes later, the car of Mufti of the Republic, Ildus Fayzov, exploded. The mufti himself was driving, and there was nobody else in the car. He survived, but in 2013 he left his post for health reasons. The assassination attempts on the two well-known Islamic figures of Tatarstan, and the murder of one of them, took place on the eve of the Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan. Subsequently, by a presidential decree, Fayzov was awarded the Order of Friendship .
On August 28, 2012, an explosion occurred in the house of Sufi Sheikh Said-Afandi Atsaev (Said of Chirkey) in Chirkey village (Buinaksky district). The bomb was launched by a female suicide bomber. As a result, eight people died: Sheikh Said of Chirkey, six people who were nearby, and the suicide bomber herself. Several victims of the explosion were taken to hospital. Sheikh was one of those who had started the intra-Islamic reconciliation in Dagestan, having played a significant, if not the decisive, role in the process. He was considered one of the most famous and influential Sufi sheikhs of the Naqshbandi and Shazili tariqahs in Dagestan and impacted significantly the operation of the republican Muslim Spiritual Authority .
On December 26, 2012, near Chmi village on the outskirts of Vladikavkaz, Deputy Mufti of North Ossetia Ibragim Dudarov was shot on the way home. At the time of the murder, he was 34 years old, and had been in charge of educational matters at the Spiritual Administration of Muslims (SAMR) of North Ossetia for five years. He left four minor children .
On August 16, 2014, another Deputy Mufti of North Ossetia, Rasul Gamzatov, was killed near his home in Vladikavkaz .
On September 25, 2014, in Teletl village (Shamilsky district of Dagestan), Shamil Badaviev was shot dead. He was one of the initiators of constructing the madrassah in Teletl and supervised the construction process. He also was among the opponents to radical religious movements .
On August 20, 2015, in Stavropol Territory, 32-year-old Zamirbek Makhmutov, Deputy Imam of Irgakly village, was found dead, shot on the way to morning prayer at the mosque.
On September 9, 2015, in Novy Kurush village (Khasavyurt district of Dagestan) Imam Magomed Khidirov was shot near the building of the local mosque.
On September 26, 2016, Ravil Kaybaliev, Deputy Imam of Neftekumsky district of Stavropol Territory, was killed by unknown people on the road from Budennovsk to Kara-Tyube .
According to the Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, Albir Krganov, “the lives and works of the Muslim leaders who died from the hands of terrorists must be studied”. In his opinion, it is important not only for representatives of Islam, but also for the entire Russian society and state .
Manifestations of Islamophobia
Russian orientalists Aleksey Krymin and Georgiy Engelgardt defined Islamophobia as “actions and statements that Muslims regard as hostile to Islam. The concept covers an extremely wide range of meanings, from pogroms to any criticism of Muslims and Islamic activists, Islamic religion, and social practice” . The term became widespread after the British research center Runnymede Trust published its report “Islamophobia: a challenge for us all” in 1997. The main features of such a discourse were defined as:
— treating Islam as a backward, archaic, or authoritarian religion, not prone to dialogue and compromise;
— treating one of the world religions as a threat to stability and order .
One should bear in mind that the concept of Islamophobia itself, first of all, was based on European context, with all the theories associated with the understanding of Islamophobia as a special form of racism, product of the colonial era, element of the extreme right ideology, and so on, designed to explain European reality, where the Muslim factor is actualized primarily in the migration context. In Russia, the situation is completely different, therefore, many Western approaches are applicable only partially .
In case of Russia, in the overwhelming majority of cases, politicians and senior government representatives show a pronouncedly correct and respectful attitude towards Islam. According to President Vladimir Putin (November 2019), “Islam and Christianity, like other world religions, are based on fundamental humanistic values that are of lasting importance: on mercy and love for one’s neighbors, on justice and respect for the human as a person”. And that is precisely why, according to Russian President, “the joined efforts of religious organizations and their constructive interaction with state and social structures” will certainly help strengthen civil peace and harmony” . Vladimir Putin also stated (in 2013 and 2018) that Islam is “part of the Russian cultural code” .
The Russian Federal Law “On freedom of conscience and on religious associations”, while emphasizing “the special role of Orthodoxy in the history of Russia and in the formation and development of its spirituality and culture”, declares respect for Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and other religions, which are an integral part of the historical heritage of peoples of Russia” .
In the Russian Federation, there are about 8 thousand active mosques, and more than 90 regional CROs (Muslim Spiritual Authorities), with three of them having the status of organizations of federal significance, namely, the Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia (lead by Talgat Tadzhutdin), Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation – Council of Muftis of Russia (Ravil Gainutdin), and Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia (Albir Krganov); one of the organizations with an interregional status, the Coordination Center for Muslims of the North Caucasus (Ismail Berdiev); about ten Islamic higher educational institutions; 70 licensed secondary specialized madrassahs; the Bolgar Islamic Academy, in the town of Bolgar (Republic of Tatarstan); with representatives of the Muslim clergy working as members of various councils under the President of the Russian Federation, under the Federation Council, under the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs, and under the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation.
Supported by the state, the Islamic Culture, Science, and Education Support Foundation assists considerably in implementing the official goals of the Muslim Spiritual Authorities and social projects. Moreover, representatives of Muslim peoples are widely represented in the federal and regional government.
As to leading Russian politicians, the Communist Party leader Gennadiy Zyuganov, while rarely mentioning the Islamic topic, always emphasizes such positive element of the religion as “the priority of the collectivist values over the individualistic ones”. He voiced these theses during his speech at the All-Russian Muslim Meeting in 2011.
In his public speeches, the Communist Party leader talks regularly about his working experience in the North Caucasus and the efficient interaction with Muslim spiritual opinion leaders .
Aleksandr Prokhanov, famous writer and journalist, Editor-in-Chief of Zavtra newspaper (which is ideologically close to the Communist Party), advocates an “Orthodox-Islamic” and “Slavic-Turkic alliance”, which could become an alternative to the Anglo-Saxon domination. Publicists working in the Eurasia-oriented fields (Aleksandr Dugin) also support similar positions .
Given this context, it is impossible to claim the existence of Islamophobia in the Russian Federation as a state official policy. Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, Albir Krganov, voiced this thesis in one of his speeches at a meeting of OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw. While, according to him, such state of affairs, of course, still does not eliminate the existing issues .
Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, the permanent leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (consistently maintaining his own fraction in the lower house of the Federal Assembly) stands out against the background of a generally respectful attitude towards Islam and Muslims. This politician has been consistently supporting the national populist agenda, with Islamophobia given an important place within its framework. “We are not saying that Islam itself is hostile. But Islamic doctrines, teachings, postulates, and practice of rituals feature an excessive fanaticism which creates a confrontation with neighboring peoples”. As he predicted, “In the future, we will have clashes between Christianity and Islam” and “Russia’s task is limiting Islam to the cultural framework only” .
Mr Zhirinovskiy’s Islamophobia is multidimensional. Firstly, it includes the offensive statements against peoples, who mostly practice Islam. Thus, the LDPR leader used to make statements about birth control in the North Caucasus and the need to fence the region in “barbed wire”. “All peoples are good, but there [in the North Caucasus], an excess of population exists,” said the LDPR leader, pointing out that in such a situation, locals often get involved in crimes. Therefore, it is necessary “to take measures related to limiting the growth of population in the North Caucasus, since the main reason for all wars and revolutions is soaring population growth”. Subsequently, he reworded his statements saying that the “barbed wire” should isolate only armed insurgents .
Secondly, Zhirinovskiy opposed to granting special rights to regions, in particular, to Tatarstan. He consistently opposed to making a special treaty on the delimitation of powers between Moscow and Kazan, as well to the existence of ethnic republics within the Russian Federation .
According to famous Russian Islamic scholar and researcher Aleksey Malashenko, “the main reason for Islamophobia is the fear of Islam, rooted both in real events taking place in Russia and in the world, and in our perception of them”. Meant are such events as the conflicts in the Caucasus in the 1990s, the situation in Central Asia and in the Middle East countries, and the threats of terrorism. Frequently, interpreting of such events is oversimplified, and the sources of the fear are extrapolated to all representatives of the “other” religion . As a result, the theses on internal migration (where inhabitants of various ethnic republics move to regions with a predominantly Russian population) as a source of conflicts and threats serve as the calls for building “protective barriers” rather than for forming competent national policies and conflict prevention. On this issue, Aleksandr Tkachev during his term as Governor of Krasnodar Territory spoke a lot . For a long time, the local Muslim community had been raising the issue of the regional anthem, which, in their opinion, contains Islamophobic statements. The text of the anthem contains an address from the Cossacks to Kuban (their native region): “While here, we are thinking of you as the Mother, and we are going to the mortal battle to defeat the enemy, the basurmans [“followers of other than Christian faiths”]”.
But the problem is that Krasnodar Territory is home for not only the Kuban Cossacks. In 2013, after an incident during a football game between the clubs Krasnodar and Anzhi (Makhachkala), when fans had burned the Dagestan flag, the Dagestan leaders raised the issue of the anthem as a work that incites interethnic and interconfessional hatred. According to the then chairman of the parliament of the republic, Khizri Shikhsaidov, the Kuban national anthem calls “believers of different religions to fight”. The then current leader of Dagestan Ramazan Abdulatipov raised the issue of the anthem’s compliance with the Constitution and the legislation of the Russian Federation .
In addition, as far as channeling of Islamophobia is concerned, various media shows and statements in social networks also represent a significant problem. According to researcher of Russian Islam, Sofiya Ragozina, journalists and bloggers tend to label everything that is not familiar to them as “radical” or “extremist”. “It is not limited to such an evident strategy to emphasize the affiliation with the Muslim community in materials about crimes committed. One can also frighten the reader with “thousands of Muslims having jammed the subway” or by equaling zakat to racket” . Thus, Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, Albir Krganov, drew attention to that the phrase “Islamic fascism”, used in a popular TV show, “Military Secret”, on the REN-TV channel is inadmissible.
Representatives of Muslim clergy and public organizations criticize the use of such terms as “Islamic terrorism” or “Islamic extremism”. According to them, such references as “the warrior of Allah” or “Shaheed belt”, which have been widely used on TV, in print media, and on the Internet in the context of terrorist practices, are unacceptable, since they are aimed at discrediting Islam as a religion and fueling negative stereotypes about Muslims .
In a study of Islamophobia in Russia (conducted by Sofiya Ragozina using an empirical database of 20,699 articles from Russian newspapers published in 2010–2018), a number of important media trends were noted. All selected articles contained the words “Islam,” “Islamic,” and “Muslim.” Ragozina paid attention to the epithets and verbs accompanying this concept in the newspapers. It turned out that the most frequent collocation used was the “radical”. But, of course, the articles failed to define clearly the difference between radical Islam and traditional one. [According to them], the radical Islam includes everything related to the turbulent situation in the North Caucasus regions and in any troubled regions around the world .
According to Ragozina, “studying the discussion of Islam in the press, one can see that authors often strive to impress readers with statistics. Journalists like to count the size of a Muslim community or of those gathered for a particular Muslim celebration. “Millions”, “tens of thousands”, “millions of crowds of exalted Muslims” are the most frequent quantitative characteristics of Muslims in Russian newspapers. The purpose of all these efforts is presenting the issue as an immense one” .
This has led to the securitization of Islam and linking a whole range of issues related to the religion exclusively to security problems, or, in many publications, even to equaling the entire religion to extremism and terrorism. In this regard, statements of famous religious leader, deacon Andrey Kuraev, are indicative: “I only protest against the idiotic phrase “terrorism has no religion and ethnicity”. Terrorists do have both”, “Do Irish or Basque guerilla fighters arrange explosions in Russia? The Islamic community of Russia must recognize terrorism as its “issue”, “its sore”. In some ways, of course, this phrase is true. Some representatives of other faiths do have bad deeds. However, their acts have reasons, for example, possible economic benefits, manic predispositions, and so on. However, it is important that in this case, crime is not the goal itself, but rather a means to obtain personal benefit. While in the case of Islam, a crime is committed for the sake of the crime, and the cult of personal sacrifice, allegedly in the name of Allah, is practiced”, summarizes Kuraev .
The topic of Islamophobia also arises objectively in connection with court rulings regarding the media, which position themselves as consistent advocates of the Muslim religion.
On June 14, 2019, editor of the Religion department of the well-known Dagestani newspaper Chernovik Abdulmumin Gadzhiev was detained as a suspect. On July 22, he was charged with committing crimes under Part 2, Art. 205.5, and Part 4, Article 205.1 of the Russian Criminal Code, namely, financing of terrorism and involvement in the activities of a terrorist organization. Subsequently, Gadzhiev’s detention has been extended for new terms. In such cases, the prevention of terrorism as seen by the authorities is opposed to the views of the editorial team, which stands for protecting the rights of a group of believers. In this context, an impartial investigation and court ruling are crucial. And ensuring the true awareness of the population is equally important for preventing the politicization of such cases.
In such situations, the lack of reliable information fuels the spread of speculation, which can be illustrated by detention of Dagir Khasavov, a lawyer known in professional circles as the defender in many high-profile cases, and as a defender of Muslim rights.
Khasavov is charged with obstructing justice (Part 1, Article 294 of the Russian Criminal Code), bribery, and coercion, or evading, to give evidence (Part 4, Article 309 of the Russian Criminal Code). Due to the absence of sufficient information on the evidence available on the case, speculations have occurred on his detention as related to his professional activities .
Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, Albir Krganov, commented on the lawyer’s detention: “Our religion teaches us to carefully review the information we receive”.
The situation caused by the detention of lawyer Dagir Khasavov has caused many questions and concerns in the society.
In addition, in our opinion, a detention in such cases fuels various provocations and gossip. Many people who used to track Khasavov’s professional activity are asking questions about the charges being pressed, but are receiving no answers. At the same time, various versions of what is happening are voiced... Citizens need to understand and feel in practice that their rights are observed as guaranteed by the basic law of the state, the Constitution.
At the same time, we believe that society has the right to know more about what the defendants in such processes are specifically accused of. The investigation should be as open and understandable to the public as possible” .
Mufti of Moscow under SAMR of the Russian Federation, Ildar Alyautdinov, also commented on this situation: “Such news always causes concerns and suspicions in society. As a rule, such cases are widely covered in in the media and debated, while few have reliable information. Of course, such harsh measures as detention and serious charges always raise many questions. Some people do not rule out the political motivation for such persecution, while others associate these arrests with the suspects’ activities. I express my hope for a fair and open investigation of these and similar cases. Citizens need to feel that they live in a country where the rights of all people, without exception, are respected” .
Judicial awards against Muslim clerics can also fuel Islamophobic sentiments. In April 2017, the Moscow District Military Court sentenced Sheikh Makhmud Velitov, Imam of the Moscow Yardyam mosque, to three years in a colony under the charges of publicly acquitting terrorism. The defense denied this claim, stating that a prayer for absolution could not contain a justification for terrorism, and the imam was asked to read the prayer for the murdered person without informing him that such murdered person was a member of any organization. Currently, Makhmud Velitov has served his sentence and is now back home .
In Aleksandrovskaya Cossack village (Kabardino-Balkaria), parents of schoolchildren are not satisfied with the way the subject “Fundamentals of religious cultures and secular ethics” is taught, as the Caucasian Knot Internet media reports. According to Aleksandr Sviridov, chairman of the school’s parent committee and chieftain of the local Cossack community, the teacher of this discipline was trained only in one (out of possible six) module, namely, on the foundations of Orthodox culture. So, the parents had been deprived of choice, since all 4th grade students had been enrolled for this module, although there are Muslim children among them. In addition, the students are forced to learn prayers and paint icons, and many parents are not happy with that. That is why mothers and fathers filed complaints with the regional Ministry of Education, the prosecutor’s office, and the municipality. As the article clarifies, Deputy Minister of Education of the KBR Irina Shontukova met with the parents of the schoolchildren and listened to their complaints. She promised that the department would soon give its response.
Earlier, The Caucasus Post wrote that such imbalances, unfortunately, had been observed in many schools in the North Caucasus. A formal approach to teaching the subject “Fundamentals of religious cultures and secular ethics” and leaving children and parents without a choice are frequent .
Non-conventional Muslim groups and the authorities: problems in the relations
Another challenging issue of relations between the state and religion is the authorities’ policy towards non-conventional Islam, namely, towards those Muslim groups that are neither officially registered nor submit to the jurisdiction of the operating Muslim Spiritual Authorities (which are recognized by law) or [belong to] structures banned by the legislation of the Russian Federation.
We are talking here about various pseudo-Salafi groups. They have the strongest positions in the North Caucasus (especially in Dagestan), and, to a lesser extent, in some Volga territories (Naberezhnye Chelny, Kukmor, and Almetyevsk in the Republic of Tatarstan; they are also present in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Mordovia, and Penza Region). Their supporters are toughly opposed to official Islamic clergy (SAMR). In the context of Russian Islam, they consider representatives of the spiritual administrations, firstly, overly connected with secular state authorities, and, secondly, practicing Islam only “for the sake of ceremony”.
As a rule, pseudo-salafis are extremely intolerant and aggressive towards any manifestation of “non-Islamic behavior”, for example, to celebration of popular holidays (“Sabantuy” in Tatarstan, or the secular New Year), which they treat as manifestations of paganism . In the context of the North Caucasus, misleading Muslims in terminology, pseudo-Salafists criticize the actions of murids (Sufi sheikhs) and mentoring in general, as well as visiting holy sites or burial places.
On March 27, 2018, at a meeting of the Interreligious Council of Russia, Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan, Mufti Kamil Samigullin, announced the need for a legislative ban on Wahhabism and for recognition of its ideology as extremist .
Artem Khokhorin, Tatarstan’s Minister of the Internal Affairs, voiced his concerns about the formation of the second generation of Salafists in the Republic at a meeting of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tatarstan. According to him, Tatarstan has a negative trend of the formation of the second generation of Salafists, meaning the children of families prone to radical Islamic ideology .
Pseudo-Salafists operate in Russia through various network structures. They do not have any specific speaker or single leader. The motivation, degree of radicalism, and methods of pseudo-salafis vary. Attempts to negotiate with “unofficial” Muslims and get them involved in peaceful processes in different Russian regions have been taken at different times and with varying success.
In addition to the Salafis, representatives of the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (HT) party operate in Russia. This party was founded in 1953 in East Jerusalem by Palestinian jurist Taki al-Din Nabhani (1909–1977). The party itself positions its activity as “a struggle to establish the Islamic lifestyle and implementing the Islamic call” . What distinguishes the followers of this party, in their public statements, they usually deny violence. But at the same time, the ideology of HT includes anti-capitalism, anti-Zionism, anti-democracy, and anti-Westernism. Terrorism acquittal sentiments are also frequent. In the territory of Russia, this movement is spread primarily across Volga Region. In early 2003, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation and the Supreme Court listed HT as a terrorist structure. However, this measure did not stop the spread of the party’s views in Russia, especially in Volga Region.
Since the early 1990s, followers of Said Nursi (1878–1960) and Fethullah Gulen (born in 1942 in Erzurum, currently residing in Pennsylvania, USA), Turkish-origin preachers, have been extremely active in Russia, especially in the field of education. In May 2007, Moscow’s Koptevsky Court recognized certain Russian translations of Said Nursi’s “Risale-i-Nur” works as extremist containing propaganda of religious exclusivity . In 2008, the operations of the Nursi movement in Russia was banned by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (after an action brought by the General Prosecutor’s Office and supported by the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Security Service) .
The activities of the Tablighi Jamaat (“the Society for the Propagation of Faith”) in Russia are not very noticeable, unlike those of the Salafists, members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, or neo-Nursis. This Islamic movement emerged in 1927 in British India owing to the activity of Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlawi (1885–1944). The original goal of the movement was the return of the Muslims of India to the “true faith” and isolation from the influence of Europeans and secularization. Unlike Salafis or “Hizb ut-Tahrirs”, “Tablighis” work, as a rule, with the Muslim environment, without spreading their views among non-Muslims. Many authors draw attention to the fact that, despite the declared political indifference and the focus on moral and ethical practices, the appeal to the “true” and “right” faith gradually forms extremist views among TD members. Hence the “Tablighis” are viewed as “pre-radicals” . In Russia, the Supreme Court banned Tablighi Jamaat in 2009 as an “extremist organization.
In any case, there are Russian Muslims who do not approve completely of the authorities’ policy towards all of the above structures, seeing it sometimes as unnecessarily and unjustifiably prohibitive. This results in the attempts to present the actions of the executive authorities, courts, or the law enforcement system against HT activists, Salafists, or “Tablighis” as manifestations of the state’s Islamophobia . And these judgements require a sound response from the official Muslim Spiritual Authorities.
This theme has been most actively covered in the Western media in the Crimean context, since after the transition of Crimea under Russian jurisdiction, the laws of the Russian Federation on the ban, for example, HT, were also extended to the peninsula. The fact that Mufti of Crimea Emirali Ablaev shares the position of the Russian Islamic clergy and authorities regarding the need to restrain religious radicalism and to limit the access of foreign preachers spreading alien ideologies and exploiting the values of Islam is deliberately overlooked. The Mufti of Crimea, together with Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea Lazar had once condemned the blockade of the peninsula, organized by the nationalist “Mejlis” organization .
He also advocates the return of all religious objects of Muslims of Crimea, as well as objects of cultural heritage. During his term in the SAM of Crimea, about 80 religious Muslim objects had been returned, more than 60 mosques had been built, and three madrassas has been opened. In February 2018, he made an address to Crimean Tatars to take part in the presidential elections on March 18, 2018. Jointly with Ruslan Balbek (deputy of the State Duma of Russia, also a Crimean Tatar by ethnicity), the Mufti supported the construction of a mosque in Simferopol, which will be opened in April 2020 . It was at the request of Emirali Ablaev that Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned the convicted activists of the Mejlis organization, Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov in October 2017 .
Court rulings banning hijabs
Wearing religious clothes is one of the most pressing problems not only abroad, but also in Russia, which is a multiconfessional territory. In Russia, as in a range of European countries, attempts are being made to resolve this issue on the legislative level. Presently, wearing a hijab in educational institutions is one of the topical issues. Despite the fact that this issue has received publicity in Europe much earlier than in Russia, no clear solution has been developed.
In accordance with Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, “freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, including the right to practice individually or jointly with others any religion or not to practice any, to freely choose, have and disseminate religious and other beliefs and act in accordance with them, are guaranteed” . This provision is also supported by the Federal Law “On freedom of conscience and on religious associations” .
Attempts to implement the above principles of a democratic state have led to that such an ordinary garment, like a scarf, has become a tool in a dispute between representatives of secular and religious discourse.
The first debates on the subject arose only at the beginning of 2000, in connection with the right to be photographed for documents wearing a headscarf. In 2003, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation resolved the issue by its ruling permitting Russian Muslim women not to lay bare their heads for passport photographs.
In Russia, there is no official federal-level prohibition to wear a hijab (Islamic female headscarf) in educational institutions. According to the Federal Law “On education in the Russian Federation” dated December 29, 2012 (as amended on June 4, 2014), the appearance of students, as well as wearing school uniforms, is determined by the educational institution’s administration, with standard requirements for school uniforms determined by regional authorities. In 2013, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation developed Russian region’s model standard requirements for school clothes stipulating that “the appearance and clothes of students ... must comply with the business dress-code standards generally accepted in society and be secular” .
On June 4, 2014, the Federal Law “On school uniforms” was issued, according to which educational organizations have the right to establish requirements for the appearance of students. If wearing religious clothes or attributes is fundamentally important for the child or parents, in this case they may choose from among several types of education (home, part-time, correspondence, and external schooling) or transfer the child to a private school.
Since 2012, several conflict situations have been recorded related to religious dress code. In October 2012, in Stavropol Territory, at school No. 12 in Kara-Tyube village, a conflict occurred between the school administration and parents of Muslim girls. The school principal forbade the students to wear hijabs in classes arguing that the school is a secular educational institution. Soon after that, the government of Stavropol Territory approved the basic requirements for school clothes and the appearance of students. In particular, the document forbade schoolchildren to attend classes in religious clothes and headwear.
It should be noted that in October 2012, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin said during his press conference: “One should always have great respect for religious feelings of others. This respect should be manifested in the activities of the state, in the nuances, in everything. Second, we have a secular state, and we must proceed from that” .
In 2013, the Supreme Court considered a petition filed by residents of Stavropol Territory, who demanded permission for their daughters to wear hijabs at school and reversal of the prohibition previously imposed at the local level. The prohibition supporters argued that Russia is a secular state offering education which is secular in nature, and restricting public demonstration of religious attributes of any confession cannot violate anyone’s rights. While their opponents reasoned their position by referring to religious identity and an ability to exercise one’s right to freedom of conscience and religion, which also implies certain clothing rules.
In 2013, Russian Federation’s highest court dismissed the petition against the ban, and, two years later, confirmed its award on a similar appeal from Mordovia. In the republic’s Belozyorye village (where 90% of population are ethnic Tatars) a conflict broke out in a school after the regional government approved the requirements for student uniforms on May 12, 2014, prohibiting wearing clothes with “religious attributes” and hijabs while at school. Representatives of the Muslim community of the republic filed a lawsuit to declare the ban illegal. Mordovia’s government called the village to take into account the fact that some former inhabitants of Belozyorye had been seen in the units of the Islamic State organization (banned in Russia) in Syria.
On February 17, 2015, the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation considered the issue of wearing headwear by female students in schools and other educational institutions in the legal, religious, and cultural and traditional contexts. Human rights activists, lawyers, and representatives of various Russian faith-based associations participated in the debates. The discussion had been triggered by the petition of the residents of Mordovia in connection with the above decision of the republic’s government. Iosif Diskin, Chairperson of Public Chamber’s Commission for the Harmonization of Interethnic and Interreligious Relations, emphasized in his speech: “If we do value interreligious peace, we need to act with extreme caution, sympathy, and understanding. And we have to search for compromises that would not violate or question the fundamentals and dogmas of a religious identity, and, on the other hand, would take into account the particular space our children come to” .
In fall 2016, Saransk Court arrested in absentia several residents of Belozyorye village who were members of a terrorist organization. Around that time, photographs appeared on the Internet “allegedly made at the school, with minor Muslim girls in hijabs posing with weapons and praying” . In December 2016, the Belozyorye school’s director was removed (she and the teaching staff also used to appear in hijabs), and teachers and students were instructed not to wear hijabs while in the school . In a month, out of 20 Muslim teachers, four almost immediately resigned, three agreed not to wear headscarves in school, and 13 teachers continued to go to work in light headscarves. The teachers filed a lawsuit but failed to obtain an award reversing the ban .
In January 2017, Chechen Republic’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Minister of Education of the Russian Federation Olga Vasilyeva shared their opinions on this matter. During her press conference in Moscow, the minister said she supported the ban on wearing hijabs in Russian schools: “For many years, as you know, I had been running a university department of state and interconfessional relations, and I don’t think that true believers try to accentuate their attitude to faith by attributes. This is my deepest personal belief”. In response to Vasilyeva’s speech, Ramzan Kadyrov stated: “The Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, freedom to choose, have, and distribute religious and other beliefs and act in accordance with them” (Chapter 2, Article 28). The Minister of Education has stated that this issue had been resolved by the Constitutional Court”, but the Court had not considered this case or awarded a ruling on it! And conclusions based on a nonexistent award should be recognized as erroneous and misleading Russian citizens .
As a result, in Astrakhan and Murmansk regions, regional authorities also introduced school uniform requirements prohibiting students from attending classes in religious clothes and headwear. In Rostov Region, schoolchildren are not allowed to wear “religious clothing, including clothing covering their face”. Tatarstan’s government banned wearing “garments covering the face”. In Bashkortostan, schools are recommended to ban students’ wearing religious clothes and headwear. In March 2017, the Chechen parliament passed amendments to the law permitting students to wear clothes that reflect their religious beliefs. School and university administrations will have to take this fact into account when establishing the requirements for uniforms.
However, prohibitions on wearing hijabs still occur. In May 2019, the Prosecutor’s Office of Oktyabrsky District of Penza submitted proposals to directors of those 20 municipal schools in which wearing hijabs and other religious clothes was not prohibited. The prosecutor general noted that the prohibition to wear religious clothes must be officially provided for in the “school uniform regulations” of each school and the compliance with such prohibition must be strictly observed . Moreover, 12 officials of the educational institutions had been subject to disciplinary action .
A month earlier, in Kazan, school teachers were asked to provide the police with information about families adhering to “strict religious beliefs.” Well-known Kazan lawyer Ruslan Nagiev published a photograph of the document, which reads as follows: “We ask you to specify, in the characterizing material, when the minor (family) has started adhering to strict religious beliefs (since when the minor has begun wearing hijab)”.
On his page on social networks, Nagiev commented on the document as follows: “The constitutional rights of freedom of conscience and confession have been grossly violated. Personal data and information about personal life have been collected without the consent of children’s parents. A religious-based discrimination is evident” . According to a publication in New Omsk, in Kirovsky District Court, Alina Navruzova, a 3rd year student at Omsk Regional Medical College, is upholding the right to wear a hijab during classes. The college administration has prohibited wearing a hijab referring to the charter of the educational institution .
Thus, the issue of wearing hijabs at educational institutions has not been universally resolved de facto. Russian regions were free to choose their priorities independently: secularism or local features, taking into account the religious factor. And in this regard, the prevailing local Muslim population was not a decisive reason (the examples of Chechnya, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan show various patterns).
The Russian Federation, as a democratic multiconfessional state, inevitably faces the situations related to the limits, and protection, of the freedom of religious beliefs expression. Wearing religious clothes is one of the most pressing issues offering no universal solution but requiring regulation not only on the level of an entire particular state, but, sometimes, on the level of its particular region. The problem of wearing Muslim headscarves in educational institutions has been repeatedly brought to public attention. The legal tradition and historical experience of each state are among the factors in resolving this issue. Today, the Russian Federation has no federal law clearly regulating this matter, which may lead to new conflicts associated with wearing hijabs in secular schools.
Muslims’ rights in the sphere of pilgrimage (hajj)
In 2017, 350 Muslims were stuck at Domodedovo Airport waiting for the flight departure for the hajj. Among them were residents of Bashkiria, Chelyabinsk Region, Mordovia, Yekaterinburg, and Tatarstan (town of Kukmor). Customers of two companies, Ural Service and Tulpan Travel, were affected.
Several dozens of people from Chelyabinsk Region had been staying in Moscow since August 12. The travel agency promised them a flight on the 14th, then began to “feed promises” and eventually vanished. Most of the pilgrims were elderly people who cannot stand up for themselves and are afraid to make their problems public .
Similar events took place in 2018. 98 pilgrims from the Republic of Bashkortostan were unable to departure for Mecca on August 4. Hadzh Fund travel company, registered in Naberezhnye Chelny, failed to obtain quotas for the tourists to enter Saudi Arabia .
It should be noted that after the growth of violations of Muslims’ rights, Russian Hajj Mission has been setting up stricter requirements for all parties involved in the process of organizing the pilgrimage. It requires to actively engage the law enforcement agencies to suppress unlawful acts by unfair individuals and legal entities aimed at the illegal collection of documents and money of pilgrims; it also demands to ensure extensive explanatory coverage in the media.
Since 2019, in order to prevent wrongdoings in the field of pilgrimage (hajj), Russian Hajj Mission has been printing individual pilgrim certificates on special paper with watermarks with 5 degrees of protection. Each tour operator receives the number of certificates according to its quota. Now the hajj can be performed only by a person who has received an individual pilgrim certificate.
Muslims’ rights in the penal system
In the context of respecting human rights, the issue of the rights of persons in places of confinement has been discussed for several years. This fact is seen as the sign of the establishment of democratic traditions in Russia and departure from the authoritarianism’s legacy, when the penal system was de facto considered primarily as a system of repression and punishment.
However, the rights of believers require special attention. Understanding the importance of freedom of conscience and religious freedom for personal development, as well as the belief that the observance of the human rights protection framework in the course of executing sentences of imprisonment, contribute to the reformation of convicts and ensure the inalienability of such freedoms for persons sentenced to isolation from society. Religion as a form of spiritual culture contributes to the moral improvement of a person, so it is simply irreplaceable in working with prisoners. Failure to understand that results in significant radicalization of believers in places of confinement, which risks channeling extremist views to a group of doubters, who have not chosen their path.
Meanwhile, for many years human rights defenders and public activists have been facing the issues of violating Muslims’ rights in the penal system. In spring 2015, comprehensive report “On the situation of residents of the Chechen Republic and Republic of Ingushetia in the penal system institutions” was issued prepared by the “Civil Assistance” Committee. The authors stated that the situation in places of confinement for prisoners from these two Russian regions has its specific features. The first one is due to the general negative image of the two Chechen military campaigns. The second one is connected with a general lack of understanding the needs of the convicts associated with practicing Islam which results in their discrimination on religious and ethnic grounds .
After several years, the situation has not improved significantly. Thus, on November 9, 2019, during her visit to colony IK-7 in Karelia, Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova met with two Muslim prisoners who complained that the colony’s schedule did not allow them to pray at the prescribed time. “I think there is such a problem. And it deserves attention. The time of prayers prescribed by the Quran and the prisons’ routine are not aligned. It seems to me that it is necessary to discuss with the higher spiritual community, together with the Federal Penitentiary Service, the possibilities of a compromise so that people could pray according to the Quran”, summed up the Russian Human Rights Commissioner .
Other examples confirm Tatyana Moskalkova’s conclusions. Former member of the Federation Council, Rauf Arashukov, who was arrested on the gas theft case, in May 2019, reported a violation of believers’ rights in the pre-trial detention center due to the lack of halal food. The fact was announced by member of the Public Monitoring Commission (PMC) Aleksandr Ionov, who visited the Arashukovs, father and son, at the detention center. According to the media’s source, the senator in his interview admitted that if he knew about the rules of a pre-trial detention center, he would “propose completely different laws”. Arashukov Jr. had said that prisoners did not have access both to food that meets the requirements of Islam and to fish, which Muslims often use to replace meat in the absence of halal .
In July 2019, a representative of the Public Monitoring Commission in Kabardino-Balkaria applied to Omsk Region’s Ombudsman after a complaint about violations of the rights of prisoner Rustam Missirov. Federal Penitentiary Service’s administration responded to the complaint and sent it to investigators. “Oppressing Muslims in Omsk Region’s colonies is a widespread practice”, local lawyers said .
Not only human rights defenders and public activists, but also the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) itself recognizes this acute problem. In November 2018, the FSIN Task Group held a meeting on cooperation with Muslim centralized organizations. It was noted that the increase in the number of Muslims in Russian prisons is associated both with the growing number of immigrants from Central Asia and tightening of anti-extremist legislation, which is why many Russian citizens practicing this religion find themselves behind the bars.
Anyway, in 2015 Russia became an observer in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and therefore the agency plans to implement some of the standards described in circular “On the rights of prisoners under Islamic sharia” in the nearest future.
FSIN officials also admit that the situation with religious life in Russian prisons cannot be described as favorable . At the same time, as notes Andrey Lukhanin, Head of FSIN’s Main Directorate for Krasnoyarsk Territory, “the penal system should equal everyone. And if the rules prescribe to include pork in the diet, we do it. Same as during Orthodox fasting: we cannot cook separately for those who fast. But it is up to the convicts whether to take such food or not. After all, they can buy the food they need, or their relatives can bring it. In total, over 1,550 convicted Muslims are serving sentences in prisons with 30 prayer rooms and one mosque functioning for them. Nobody forbids them to perform prayers, but, at the same time the penal institution’s internal rules should not be violated, and no infringement of the rights of others should occur” .
According to Ismail Denilkhanov, Chairperson of the Public Chamber of the Chechen Republic, the key issue with observing Muslims’ rights in the penal system is “the lack of an appropriate legislative framework, a law that allows a prisoner to perform rituals in accordance with their religious beliefs and to eat what their religion allows”. Penal institution’s administration responds to our appeals shortly: “The law does not provide for that, we do not have the right to violate the prison’s routine, the instructions do not contain such a clause, and so on”. We understand that it is impossible to solve the problem overnight, or group prisoners according to their religion, build separate kitchens, arrange separate meals, and so on” .
Thus, both the authorities and human rights defenders recognize the problem. Unfortunately, actual improvements in this field are not always taking place fast, and the issue of observing the basic rights of Muslim believers in places of confinement is still acute. Currently, the Federal Penitentiary Service has signed agreements on cooperation in this area with the Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia, Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation, Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, and the Muslim Spiritual Authority of Mordovia.
Conclusions and practical recommendations
Reassuring the right of everyone to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, to equal treatment before the law, regardless of religion or beliefs, and based on the fact that the Russian Federation is a secular state, recognizing the special role of Orthodoxy in the history of Russia, in the formation and development of its spirituality and culture, respecting Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other religions, which are an integral part of the historical heritage of peoples of Russia, attributing high importance to promoting mutual understanding, tolerance, and respect in matters of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation has adopted Federal Law No. 125-FZ dated September 26, 1997, “On freedom of conscience and on religious associations”.
Islam is an integral historical component of Russian society and one of the most important elements of Russian identity and cultural space. Neglecting this fact can result in conflicts and social instability. The authorities, human rights defenders, and the civil society as a whole recognize the issues of preserving Russian ethnic and religious diversity. At the same time, such vices as Islamophobia have not been eliminated. Courts and authorities at various levels do not always understand the problems of Muslim believers, and their responses to the requests of Russian Islamic community are not always adequate. These faults are inevitably accompanied by violations of believers’ rights. At the same time, one cannot but notice the accumulated experience of cooperation between the authorities, Muslim centralized structures, human rights defenders, and representatives of other religions, especially the Russian Orthodox Church.
In this regard, the following recommendations are proposed.
For the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation:
— to increase the efficiency of legislative support for the issues related to the protection of the rights of believers (including Muslims) engaging experts in Islamic law and expert religious scholars;
— to raise the issue of intensifying human rights protection activities within the framework of international parliamentary institutes engaging spiritual leaders from Russian Islamic organizations for the issues related to Middle East and respecting Muslims’ rights in the EU and the USA;
— to consider the possibility of amending the Land Code of the Russian Federation to define a unified standard for the allocation of land to centralized religious organizations of traditional religions of the Russian Federation, which form an integral part of the historical heritage of peoples of Russia in accordance with Federal Law No. 125-FZ dated September 26, 1997, “On freedom of conscience and on religious associations”.
For the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, jointly with the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, and Federal Penitentiary Service:
— to develop practical courses and educational programs as part of advanced training for specialists of relevant ministries, agencies, and local authorities in the field of interaction with the Muslim community;
— to develop and publish, with the assistance of centralized Muslim organizations, teaching aids and online training programs to achieve these goals.
For the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation:
— to submit the recommendations to the courts on the need to engage recognized representatives of centralized and educational Muslim organizations and Islamic law experts in evaluation of Islamic literature for the signs of extremism.
For the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation:
— to approve the register of theologian experts recommended for engaging in expert religious examinations and trained at the specialized State-confessional Relations Department of the Institute of Public Administration and Civil Service of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (IPACS RANEPA).
For the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs:
— to make additional efforts to arrange cooperation, and develop joint activities, with centralized Muslim religious organizations in Russia in the field of preventing ethnicity- and religion-based discrimination;
— in order to prevent religious discrimination in educational institutions, to prepare proposals to the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation with a request to establish additional requirements for the skills and knowledge of persons allowed to work in the subject “Fundamentals of religious cultures and secular ethics”;
— to ensure information support for the human rights protection efforts of centralized Muslim religious organizations in Russia;
— to work out the issue of developing presentations, programs, teaching materials, and case training courses for education of believers in legal matters.
For civil society institutes:
— to strengthen information coordination in social networks, blogosphere, and Telegram channels to timely detect and record violations of the rights of Russian Muslims, including those located abroad;
— to actively counteract xenophobic manifestations in the media and on social networks, to create independent network platforms to promote an objective point of view on Islam, combat its securitization, and oppose Islamophobic and extremist (in Islamic disguise) quasi-religious discourses;
— to intensify interaction with the CROs of Russian Muslims in order to develop common approaches to human rights protection efforts and provide legal protection to victims of discrimination.
For centralized and local Muslim organizations, as well as higher and secondary specialized Muslim educational organizations and public structures:
— to deliver legal literacy and legal culture improvement courses on a regular basis;
— to engage in their efforts experts in the field of law and jurisprudence, law enforcement officers, and leading law schools.
 The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030 //http://www.pewforum.org/The-Future-of-the-Global-Muslim-Population.aspx 2011, January, 27
 Malashenko A.V. Islam for Russia [Islam dlya Rossii (in Russian)]. Moscow, 2007. P.9.
 //Cited from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/russian/russia/newsid_4240000/4240502.stm
 Current statistical and census data. Where there is no such criterion as “religious affiliation”, the notion of “ethnic Muslim” (accepted in sociology and political science) is used.
 Full text of the law is available at (in Russian): http://base.consultant.ru/cons/cgi/online.cgi?req=doc;base=LAW;n=115879.
 Malashenko A.V. Islam for Russia [Islam dlya Rossii (in Russian)]. Moscow, ROSSPEN. 2007. P. 4-6
 The USSR restored diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia in 1991, while a year before that, Mikhail Gorbachyov (the then Soviet President) resolved on allowing Soviet citizens to travel on hajj through third countries. Before the “perestroika”, some Soviet Muslims had been allowed to perform the hajj, although even those opportunities were seriously limited.
 Politicization of Islam does not equal to anti-Russian Islamic or jihadist sentiments. In many cases, representatives of the Islamic clergy, loyal to the Russian Federation and its authorities, advocate for actual reducing the role of secular institutions and strengthening the influence of religion (in the fields of education, upbringing, and civil relations).
 Current statistical data from new independent states and materials of research center Pews “Mapping the Global Muslim Population”.
 Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (Runnymede Trust) 1997.
The author of the lyrics of the Krasnodar Territory anthem, regimental priest Konstantin Obraztsov (1877–1949), wrote his main work back in 1915 on the Russian-Turkish front of the First World War. It was not intended as an anthem, but was written in the form of a collective letter from the front to the homeland, dedicated to the Cossacks of the 1st Caucasian Cossack Regiment as memory of their military glory. Initially, the work was performed in a narrow circle of front-line soldiers, but soon all the Kuban army units were singing it. In 1919, during the Civil War, it became the anthem of the Cossack Kuban. The song received its second birth during the Great Patriotic War, when Cossack cavalry units were set up as part of the Red Army. In 1995, the song was made the regional anthem, but without a critical revision and adaptation of the lyrics to the realities of peaceful life and modern Russia.
 One of the five pillars of Islam, the mandatory annual tax under Islamic law payable on various types of income and property (movable and immovable) by all independent, free, capable and adult Muslims in favor of needy fellow believers.
“Sabantuy” is a holiday celebrated by Tatars and other Turkic peoples living in the Volga basin. In Bashkiria, it is known as “Khabantuy”, and among the Chuvash, as “Akatuy”. The roots of the holiday date back to the pre-Islamic period: it was some sort of a harvest festival celebrated when peasants finished spring field work. The New Year is called by Salafis as the “devil’s obsession” and a tradition that has no connection with Islam at all.
 Commins D. Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani and the Islamic Liberation Party’ //The Muslim World. Vol. LXXXI, No. 3-4,1991.P. 194.
 Yunusova A. Radical ideologies and Muslim youth in Russia. //http://www.muslims-volga.ru/?id=376&query_id=6637
 Ternisien Xr. Rise of Sububan Salafis Worries Police and Muslims // Le Monde. – 2002. – January 25
Alexiev A. Tablighi Jamaat: Jihad's Stealthy Legions // Middle East Quarterly. Winter 2005, P.3
 According to Ruslan Balbek, the Cathedral Mosque’s opening date was postponed for a year to add the “Crimean Tatar color” to its interior. See details at: https://krym.aif.ru/society/details/sobornaya_mechet_v_simferopole_budet_otkryta_cherez_god
 Constitution of the Russian Federation: adopted by the nationwide referendum on December 12, 1993 (as amended by No. 6-FKZ dated December 30, 2008, No. 7- FKZ dated December 30, 2008, No. 2- FKZ dated February 05,2014) // Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 1993. Dec. 25. No. 237; The Code of Laws of the RF. March 03, 2014. No. 9. Art. 851.
 “On the freedom of conscience and on religious associations”: federal law dated September 26, 1997, No. 125-FZ // Rossiyskaya Gazeta 1997. Oct. 1.
 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2210976685618257&set=a.726356994080241&type= 3/