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Islamic Radicalization in Russia

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This paper examines the phenomenon of Islamic radicalization in Russia, analyzing the causes, dynamics and implications of the increasing radicalization of Russia’s Muslim community. The paper argues that in the last few years Islam has increased its physical presence in Russia, for example through the construction of new mosques and of educational structures, but it has also increased its online presence.

The increase of the international mobility of persons and of ideas, new demographic developments and migration flows have also contributed to the change in the composition of Russia’s Muslim communities and to the spread of Islam to other areas.

The growing influence of transnational Islamic networks (Salafism, Muslim Brotherhood) has played an important role in the radicalization of Russia’s local Muslim communities, and it contributed to turn local Islam into a new form of protest against the Russian repressive and authoritarian state, particularly in the Northern Caucasus.

Finally, the paper argues Russia has a unique approach towards the new forms of Islam and its increasing presence. The Russian strategy towards the Muslim communities seems to be characterized by a strong repression against transnational forms of Islam; by secrecy and lack of transparency in regulatory matters; and by the lack of an open dialogue.          

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