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Russia and Islam : state, society, and radicalism


This is a very illuminating collection of articles on the post-Soviet rise of radical Islam among Russia's Muslims and reactions to them by the Russian State. The salience and diversity of Muslim communities in Russia (between 6 and 12 per cent of the population, according to different surveys, and around 50 ethnic groups) provides ample opportunities to discuss the comparative appeal and various forms of Islamic radicalism that is associated with different issues in different locations, such as Tatarstan (Azat Khurmatullin), republics of the Northern Caucasus (Galina Yemelyanova, John Russell), and Moscow (Luke March). Of particular value are contributions based on primary ethnographic research (Akhmet Yarlykapov on Northern Caucasian Muslims and Ruslan Kurbanov on ‘Shariat’ jamaat) which, among other things, point to the interactive dynamics of radicalisation that often results from tensions between competing Islamic groups and between them and government agencies.

The volume also provides useful information and analyses of the state policies towards Islamic radicalism, in particular how it is conceptualised and dealt with by governmental agencies, legal bodies, the mass media, and academia (chapters by Roland Dannreuther and Alexander Verkhovski).  While the issue of violent extremism is not directly addressed in the volume, taken together, its contributions offer a comprehensive overview of the politics, issues, trends, and tensions within which it emerges. Finally, the reader will benefit from a comparative perspective on radicalism that the volume offers through its contributions on Central Asia, Iran, and, to some extent, Western Europe.

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