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March 23 – Moscow has been relatively successful in fighting Islamist radicalism by the use of force, but it has been much less so in the ideological sphere, often committing mistakes that give its opponents an opening which they have eagerly seized to promote their ideas.
Perhaps the most horrific of these unintended mistakes, one Russian commentator says, was Vladimir Putin’s decision to exclude all holy books, including the Koran, from being examined as sources of extremism. That has made some Russian judges reluctant to examine materials that contain citations to the Koran.
And their reluctance, one analyst says, has the Islamists celebrating. “’Finally,’” they openly declare, “we have been given the chance to freely disseminate everything that we want. Allah protects us and the Koran preserves us from the judges of the Russian Federation’” (ridus.ru/news/215348).
But if that is the most egregious failure on the ideological front, it is far from the only one the Russian authorities are committing, according to Moscow commentator Yekaterina Trofimova, who on the basis of consultations with Russian experts points to a large number of others.
The Russian government’s support for immigration from Central Asia has allowed Islamist radicals from there to seize control of many of the mosques in Russian cities and transform them into recruiting centers for ISIS and other radical groups, according to Aleksey Grishin, head of the Religion and Society Center.
Moreover, he says, the Russian authorities have compounded this error by seeking the help of these mosques to adapt the migrants to Russian conditions. Thus, the Russian state itself is sending Muslims to Islamist recruiters and appears oblivious to the consequences of its own blindness.
Moreover, when it cracks down on migrants, it also fails, according to Georgy Fedorov, a member of the Russian Social Chamber. To the extent that its targets remain in Russia, they form underground mosques that are inherently radical; and to the extent they return home, they become a source of instability in their own countries.
Indeed, as a result of Russian government policies in this regard and the economic recession at the present time, Russia has been transformed from “an importer of Islamist extremism” into an exporter, something the Central Asian countries recognize even if Moscow does not...........................
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