To what extent can the experience of the Russian Federation in promoting the ideas of inter-ethnic peace and harmony be used in other countries, including the Arab world? What is the situation in the countries of Central Asia? We have discussed these issues with Vitaly Naumkin, Academic Advisor of the Institute, and Chairman of the Academic Council of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
-How does the experience of multi-confessional regions of the Russian Federation affect the overall inter-religious situation in the country? How does it change the image of the Russian Federation in the world arena?
-A few years ago, there were states and forces in the Islamic world that were always accusing Russia of everything, especially in the connection with the events in the North Caucasus. Today, even those organizations, which used to criticize us, for instance, the Muslim World League, say that Russia is a universal model of fruitful and equal co-residence, cooperation among all the confessions and ethnic groups. Now the situation has radically changed: even those people who used to not be fully ready to consider us as an exemplary model, now recognize and use our experience. This is the reputation of Russia – how we live now, how the Tatarstan Republic and Bashkortostan live, what Grozny has become. Remember how destructive those movements were that were trying to blow it all up. Today they are not popular at all. They are some units that are being indoctrinated by forces hostile to us. That is why I think that the model of our inter-confessional, multi-ethnic and multi-national society is absolutely unique and based on history, traditional tolerance and friendship, mutual enrichment of cultures of our civilizational norms, close to each other.
-If we are talking about Central Asia, what are the peculiarities of inter-religious dialogue then and how can the Russian model serve as example?
-Let’s begin with the fact that we used to be one state that is why they successfully adopt our effective practices. If we look at Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan today, we will notice that there are no inter-religious, inter-ethnic and inter-Islamic serious problems there. Thus, we can observe that at least one civilizational space remains preserved. Of course, there are their own challenges; there is pressure from radical Islam in the south - Afghanistan and the Middle East. These states have to overcome the pressure that is exerted on them and provoked by unfriendly circles, including from the west.
We cannot help but talk about the rehabilitation of ex-militants’ children. In this area of activity we have joint experience in order to make these children full-fledged members of society and to prevent the recurrence of such situations in the future.
-In your opinion, what kind of work has been done during the period when Russia is an observer in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation?
-We can talk a lot about it, as there are many scientific works, conferences devoted to this issue. The most important here is rapprochement of Russia with the Islamic world. And the membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as an observer has played a special role here.
The interviewer: Ilmira Gafiyatullina