Russian Muslim converts feel the sting of Islamophobia as the government cracks down on the community
- Among Russia’s 16 to 20 million Muslims are ethnic Russians who have converted to Islam for reasons ranging from marriage to economics to theology.
- Because converts are statistically more likely to convert to more conservative sects of Islam, the government cracks down on their activity, causing many to emigrate to Turkey, the UAE, and, for the radicalized, the Islamic State.
- The deep historical roots of the Russian Orthodox Church in the country has led to a post-Soviet national identity centered on the faith, which has led to an association of religious conversion with anti-Kremlin activity.
“Lawyers who were to speak about our problem with the authorities, they said that the first thing to do was to explain to the Turkish government that there is a group of ethnic Russian Muslims, because no one has the slightest idea of this. We know Tatars, Chechens; we know that Dagestanis of various ethnicities are killed, but that there are suppressed Russians and that you actually have a large ethnic group, we don’t know about this.”
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(Image Credit: Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)