Islam in Eurasia – A conference on the situation of the Muslim community living in the Asian part of Russia

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In conduction with Tyumen State University, on 9 February, the DOC Research Institute’s Moscow office hosted a conference in Tyumen on developments in Muslim communities in Russian Asia. The conference was moderated by DOC RI Chief Researcher, Professor Alexey Malashenko.

Experts on Islam from across Russia presented their analyses of the current evolution of local Muslim communities, their needs and concerns.

Professor Malashenko emphasised that it is incorrect to speak of “radical Islam”. It would be therefore more precise to use the notion of Islamism – a trend within Islam striving for an Islamic society and state, he said.

Malashenko also pointed out that analyses of Islamic issues are complicated by the fact that too often, statistics on them do not correlate with reality.

Mideast expert Evgeny Satanovsky touched on the issue of interfaith dialogue. Satanovsky claimed that though it is often successful on the official level, the opposite happens in everyday life, where interfaith dialogue is often substituted by sectarian religious conflicts.

The experts participating in the event agreed that one of the major sources of Islamism is a lack of education and knowledge of the traditions of Russian Islam. Hence, it is of urgent necessity for the state and civil society to share information on the basics of traditional religions and promote religious education.

Tyumen researcher Alexandr Yarkov concluded the conference by discussing the work of the university’s research centre on countering extremism. Yarkov said that the best way to tackle Islamism is to take into account the local circumstances that inform it.