Sunday, March 29, 2020

Finland’s Tatar Minority Small but Active – and Linked to Kazan by the Internet

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 25 – Few think of Finland as a Muslim country, but the number of the faithful there has grown dramatically over the last 30 years with the influx of people from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. But at its core are the roughly 1,000 Tatars who are descendants of Mishars who came as traders more than a century ago and longer.

            Many originally settled in and around the port of Vyborg; but they fled when Stalin began the Winter War against Finland.  And many of them took part in the Finnish resistance (

            Earlier, in 1925, the Tatars formed the Finnish Islamic Congregation, “the first officially recognized Muslim organization in Western countries,” Yandex’s Tatars and Tatarstan page says. Now, they have two mosques which are open to the other Muslims who have come in more recent years, although only Tatars are full members.

            Remarkably for such a small community, the Tatars of Finland have retained their language and culture even as they have integrated into the Finnish nation and even become wealthy and prominent, becoming notable hockey players, actors and actresses, programmers and artists. 

            No one in this community is thinking about its potential disappearance, the page says. Instead, its members are now using the Internet to maintain ties with Tatarstan and to ensure that their outpost in Finland will survive well into the future.

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