By Svetlana Andreyeva
Speaking to Muslim clerics in the Russian Urals city of Ufa on Saturday, President Dmitry Medvedev admonished attempts to spread racial hatred in Russia ahead of the important political events there. All such attempts should be severely punished, Medvedev warned, citing the country’s legislation that he said should be used with respect to all Russian regions, including the Caucasus and the Far East.
A multi-national and multi-confessional country, Russia brings together Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other communities which are now in the process of cultivating relations. The Russian experience of such multiculturalism may be of use to EU countries, where interethnic tensions are not uncommon. In modern-day world, the main focus, however, should be placed on efforts to tackle extremism and radical Muslim movements, Dmitry Medvedev said:
“Ideologically, traditional Islam-leaning clerics are able to combat radicalism and extremism,” Medvedev says. “Actually, being in the dark on the ABC of religious culture makes a young man vulnerable to extremist trends. Religious illiteracy is fraught with serious repercussions in a person’s mind and actions,” Medvedev warns.
Offering full-fledged religious education may well help resolve the problem. The Russian government will allocate nearly one billion rubles, or more than 300 million dollars, for the training of Islamic history and culture specialists over the next three years. Russia has already adopted state standards for education in the field of “Islamic theology”. This has allowed leading universities to open departments for training Islamic clerics. One of such department was recently opened in Ufa, known as one of Russia’s Muslim centers.
During the Saturday gathering, President Medvedev separately touched upon the latest developments in Egypt, Syria and Libya:
“People’s push for democracy is only natural,” Medvedev says, referring to the ouster of what he called “old and rotten regimes”. “But the question is what has been obtained as a result. On the one hand, the regime change may lead to the development which is good, of course. But on the other, it may result in civil war which is absolutely inadmissible,” Medvedev warns.
The Russian president expressed hope that civil peace and religious and inter-confessional accord will eventually be in place in these three countries – something that Medvedev said would take a lot of time. In this connection, he called for more efforts to maintain peace in Russia.