MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Islamic organizations should get young Muslims involved in socially-oriented and charitable activities to shield them from radicalization and extremism, a Muslim leader said on Wednesday.
Ildar Bayazitov, deputy mufti of Russia’s predominantly Islamic republic of Tatarstan, said “socially useful” activity could also help alleviate social tension.
Priority should be given to helping drug addicts, prison inmates, disabled persons, large or incomplete families, elderly people and orphans, he said.
“The focus in official Muslim rhetoric in our country should be not on political issues related to Islam, but on its socially useful potential,” he said, adding that radical protest moods among religious youth often stem from unresolved social problems and a perceived lack of social justice.
The National Antiterrorism Committee said last October there has been an increase in the number of extremism-related crimes in Russia’s Volga Federal District, of which Tatarstan is part, as well as a rise in the level of latent interethnic and interreligious tension.
“There is a trend toward the expansion of radical Islam in Muslim-concentrated settlements in the Volga Region,” committee representative Dmitry Muryshov said.
Tatarstan has been viewed as a model of interethnic and inter-faith harmony in ethnically diverse Russia. However, attacks on moderate Muslim leaders last July, which left Tatarstan’s mufti Ildus Faizov severely injured and his former deputy Valiulla Yakupov dead, were a further troubling indication that radical Islam is spreading beyond what had been seen as its “traditional” borders.