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"Caucasus Emirate" has reached North Ossetia?

14.05.2012  |  21:07

North Ossetia is still beyond the vicissitudes related to the activation of radical Islam in the North Caucasus. Although various "alarm calls" happened earlier, there is still no evidence of Islamic underground. But there are many religious issues, maybe even more than in neighboring Caucasian republics, "homogeneous" in religious terms. We talked to Jana Amelina, the head of the Caucasus section in Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, about the trends of the situation development in North Ossetia.


- The Ossetians are mostly Orthodox Christians. However, there is the Muslim community, which includes up to 15% of the population. Except the Ossetians, they are the Ingush, Kumyks and representatives of other Muslim nations.

- We know of the existence of the Islamic underground across the entire North Caucasus. Is there, in your opinion, the obvious influence of the "Caucasus Emirate" on Ossetian Muslims?

- Obviously, the Ossetian Muslims do not live in a vacuum of space, and face the same challenges that the Russian Muslim community as a whole. It's enough to recall Beslan, bombing at the Vladikavkaz market and in the Moscow metro that have taken hundreds of lives. Certainly, in North Ossetia (which is, as its head Taimuraz Mamsurov recalled in a recent interview, Orthodox republic), this issue is not in topical, but it is on the agenda, and denying its existence means to turn blind eye to the real threats and challenges.

- What is the radical Islam in North Ossetia?

- According to the experts, the number of followers of radical Islam in North Ossetia is about two hundred people. The murder of the national poet Shamil Dzhikaev, committed on May 26, 2011, by the follower of radical Islam David Murashev, once again demonstrated the danger of Islamists' transition from propagandizing their ideas to extremist and armed actions. Despite the fact that experts have warned about this threat over the past four years, the conclusions were not made. Over a dozen activists of the Muslim community of Vladikavkaz have been detained on charges of involvement in the murder of Dzhikaev. Security forces have failed to prove their guilt; however, almost all those arrested were convicted of possession of weapons or drugs. Despite the obvious reason to think over this, the leadership of Muslim Spiritual Administration continues to deny the fact of the radicalization of a small but active part of the North Ossetian Muslim community.

- Can we say that Islam attacks the Christianity in North Ossetia?

- I would say that Islam has more internal drive, at least for today.

- In North Ossetia, now there is not only the Islamic discourse. The Orthodox Church is as strong in the country as the traditional beliefs. What role do they play in the public consciousness?

- Traditional beliefs this is the religious system there, formed as a result of the synthesis of the elements of Christianity with traditional beliefs in the late medieval Alania, after the loss of church institution and statehood. In Ossetia, this is rather the religious and cultural reality. The Islamists do not accept it, considering Gentiles the traditionalists. The phrase of the Interior Minister about the sanctity of the three Ossetian pies has literally outraged them. With regard to the legal system, etc., the modern Ossetians are still very urbanized and globalized people. Traditions (with a capital letter) are gradually disappearing, causing legitimate concern in the Ossetian intellectuals.


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