Sunday, December 24, 2023

North Caucasian Muslims Want Arabic to be Taught in Schools, and Now a Moscow Official is Backing That Idea

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 21 – A Moscow official has come out in favor of introducing Arabic language instruction in the schools of the Muslim republics of the North Caucasus, something parents there have long wanted but that raises both practical problems and the likely opposition of non-Muslims elsewhere in the Russian Federation.

            Anzor Muzayev, head of the Federal Service for the Supervision of Education and Science and himself a native of Gudermes, has called for the introduction of Arabic as a school subject in Daghestan, Chechnya, and other Muslim republics of the North Caucasus (

            Parents there have long sought that change in the curriculum at least in part so that their children can read the Koran and go to school in the Arabic countries of the Middle East, and experts say the proposal can be realized but only if those behind it play down the religious aspect. Otherwise, other religious denominations in Russia are likely to object.

            At present, North Caucasians can study Arabic only in Muslim medressahs; and introducing Arabic in the schools might reduce the religious dimension of the language, although it almost certainly would increase the number of young people capable of reading the Koran and thus becoming more religious, not less.

            But it is entirely possible that this proposal has no such long-term consequence and instead is intended as an electoral ploy designed to boost support in that region for Putin in the upcoming elections, although if officials move to implement it, the likelihood is that he and Moscow will lose more support elsewhere.

            And even in the North Caucasus, some are worried that Moscow has an even more nefarious goal: it may hope to introduce Arabic not in addition to foreign languages from the West like English and French but in place of them and thus is part of a plan to cut off the peoples of this region from the international community.

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