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Russia will be a third Muslim within two decades

Some 30 percent of the Russian population will practice Islam within the next 15 years, according to Russia’s grand mufti.

Published: March 8, 2019, 7:53 am

    Moscow

    As demographic trends in Russia’s Muslim-majority regions show – including in the republics of the North Caucasus and the republic of Tatarstan – Muslims already have the highest birth rates in the country.

    The Moscow Times reported that the increase reflected similar trends for Muslims worldwide.

    Various estimates place the current Muslim population in Russia at between 14 million and 20 million people, or between 10 to 14 percent of Russia’s total population of 146,8 million in 2018.

    “According to experts, Russia’s [Muslim] population will increase to 30 percent in a decade and a half,” said Ravil Gainutdin, the chairman of the Council of Muftis, a religious group representing Russia’s Muslim community.

    The changing demographics mean that “dozens” of new mosques will need to be built in Russia’s largest cities, Gainutdin told a forum meeting hosted by the State Duma on Monday.

    Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov, an official in Russia’s Orthodox Church, said Gainutdin’s forecast was correct and predicted that “there won’t be any Russians left in 2050”.

    “It’s too late,” he told the Govorit Moskva radio station when asked if he thought the current demographic trend could be reversed.

    Islam in Russia is the nation’s second most widely professed religion. According to a nationwide survey conducted in 2012, Muslims in Russia numbered 9,4 million or 6,5 percent of the total population.

    However, the populations of two federal subjects with Islamic majorities were not surveyed due to social unrest at the time, which together had a population of nearly 2 million, namely Chechnya and Ingushetia, thus the total number of Muslims may be larger.

    Islam is subsidized by the Russian government. The position of Islam as a major Russian religion, alongside Orthodox Christianity, dates from the time of Catherine the Great, who sponsored Islamic clerics and scholarship through the Orenburg Assembly.

    According to the 2010 Russian census, Moscow has less than 300 000 permanent residents of Muslim background, while some estimates suggest that Moscow has around 1 million Muslim residents and up to 1,5 million more Muslim migrant workers.

    The city has permitted the existence of four mosques. The mayor of Moscow claims that four mosques are sufficient for the population. The city’s economy “could not manage without them,” he said. There are currently 4 mosques in Moscow, and 8 000 in the whole Russia.

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