Russia: Expert warns conflicts about mosque building could trigger religious war

People protest against the construction of a mosque in south-eastern district of Moscow

Increasingly sharp disputes in many cities of the Russian Federation over whether Muslims should be allowed to build a mosque, disputes that have already spilled over into violence in Syktyvkar and Moscow this week, threaten to unleash “a religious war” across the country, experts say.

The number of people now directly involved in these disputes is small and “real tensions” at the societal level” are not intense, but Aleksey Levinson, a sociologist at Moscow’s Levada Center, argues that the situation could easily get out of control because of the way the media is playing up these disagreements (

Leaflet of protest in Syktyvkar against mosque construction

Speaking to “Svobodnaya pressa” journalist Anton Razmakhnin, Levinson suggests that “those who have decided now to play the anti-Islamic card are taking a great risk.” In response to such “aggressive” opposition to mosques, Russia “can get not just a war in the Caucasus but something much worse a full-scale jihad in every city where there is a conflict of this kind.”

In both the Moscow and Syktyvkar cases, Razmakhnin notes by way of introduction, the number of people involved on both sides of the disputes has been small. Moreover, these disputes have been going on for some time without attracting much attention. But coverage of massive Muslim participation in the Uraza-Bayram celebrations triggered something

The celebration of Eid al-Adha in Moscow

When Razmakhnin asks Levinson why he was so pessimistic about the future, the latter replies that was “because “fundamentalist Islam and precisely this trend is becoming more active … after the protests is a very strong organizing and cementing phenomenon,” one that has “all the signs of a young, active and militant religion” and that no one knows how to stop.

It’s possible that this conflict don’t degenerate in an open war. But in cities where the local council could deny the possibility of building a mosque, we could see unrest and riots. Of course, Russian Govt knows perfectly how to silence this kind of protests at least in an MSM level. But in the end, eventually they will be known.



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