Saturday, September 29, 2018

Moscow Worried about Rising Number of Converts to Islam in North Caucasus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 28 – In a remarkable indication of just how concerned Moscow is about Islamic movements in the North Caucasus and how closely Russian officials are monitoring the situation, Aleksandr Matovnikov, the presidential plenipotentiary to the North Caucasus Federal District, says that there were 1058 converts to Islam in the first half of 2018.

            The Russian official adds that this is a matter of concern because recent converts to Islam often know the least about the traditional form of the faith and thus are more likely to be infected with radical ideas, become more “fanatic” and support “extremist and terrorist ideologies” (

            According to the plenipotentiary, some new converts are among those from across the North Caucasus who have gone to fight in Syria and lost their lives there.  That makes an increase like the one in the first six months of this year especially worrisome because it may indicate that the radicals are successfully refilling their ranks.

            Matovnikov adds that “the influence of spiritual leaders, imams and clergy is very important because we must understand what motives these people have” and whether they are going into “traditional” Islam or into “non-traditional Islam” and then taking part “in illegal armed formations.”

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