Medvedev turns to Muslim clerics to counter Islamist radicals

August 31, 2009

grozny-mosquePresident Dmitry Medvedev has urged Russia’s top Muslim clerics to join forces to stop radical Islamist groups wooing young people in the turbulent North Caucasus.

(Photo: Main mosque in Grozny, capital of  Caucasus region of Chechnya, 17 May 2008/Said Tsarnayev)

“We cannot force people to give up Internet or close (Islamist) sites,” he told clerics and regional leaders at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.  “We need to think about finding a (television) channel which would offer teaching and comprehensive explanation of Islam that is traditional for our country.”

Medvedev also proposed stronger control over young people returning to Russia after studying Islam abroad. “Unfortunately these people are returning … (and) bring back unorthodox views on Islam,” he said.

“It is absolutely essential to ensure full support for the Islamic leaders, the muftiat, those who serve in the Caucasus,” he said.  “Without consolidating the authority of the Islamic leaders we will be unable to deal with the problems that exist.”

Read our reporting on this meeting here and here. For more background, see our analysis on the “Afghan-isation” of North Caucasus.

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