Is Russia becoming a Muslim state???
Some alarming statistics from Finland....
The Finnish Ministry of Defense has published a report available in English concerning the problems/challenges facing Russia. On page 51 under the heading of "Islam in Russia", the subject of Russia's challenges becomes even that much more interesting. It's the first time I've seen a Finnish Ministry report mentioning the possibility of Russia becoming a Muslim majority state.
Islam and Muslims in Russia pose a serious challenge to Russia’s internal stability and domestic policy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the self-esteem and sense of identity of Russia’s 20 million Muslims have been bolstered. In 1991 there were approximately 300 mosques in Russia; the present number approaches 8 000. Half of the new mosques have been built with foreign financing, mainly from Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia. In 1991 there were no Islamic schools in the Russian Federation. Now there are approximately 60 madrassas, attended by some 50 000 students.
Percentagewise, the largest Muslim populations are in the Volga-Ural region, Bashkorstan, Tatarstan, the North Caucasus and the Karelian Republic. In the Karelian Republic there are some 20 000 Muslims (3 % of the population).32
Another striking statistic is related to the growth of Russia’s Muslim population. Russia is about to face big demographic challenges. Russia’s population is diminishing by approximately 400 000 persons per year; yet, the population in 15 Russian regions increased in 2005. Each of them, such as Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetya in the North Caucasus has sizeable Muslim populations. The life expectancy among Muslim males is far greater than that of ethnic Russians.33
Paul Goble, an expert of Islam and the Muslim populationin Russia, estimates that the majority of Russian military recruits will be Muslims in 2015. In 2020 twenty per cent of the citizens will be Muslims, provided that the current demographic trends continue. If no changes occur, within three decades the majority of the citizens of the Russian Federation will be Muslims. Russian Muslims are a very heterogeneous group, ranging from Volga Tatars and multiethnic groupings in the North Caucasus to the new immigrants from the former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
Yet, they share one common denominator: their birth rates exceed that of the Slavic population.34 Looking at the statistics it becomes perfectly clear that Russian Muslims are going to play an important role in the future. This will not affect domestic policy only, but will also have an effect on foreign policy. Although Russia is an observer at the Congress of Islamic Organisation, its Iran policy also reflects Russia’s internal differences of opinion. On the one hand Russia seeks cooperation and shared interests but, on the other hand, it is wary of the Islamic world and sees itself, first and foremost, as a European state.