Vladimir Putin said that Russia will “definitely support” Islamic education via “major state universities” in a meeting with top Muslim clergy in Kazan, RT reports.
I can already hear some voices gasping, but rest assured, this is still Putin, the traditional Russian Orthodox man, who in some publications is portrayed as a communist, and likewise in others as a Czarist, in some as an anti-immigration nationalist, while in others as a friend to Chechnya. We have already covered how a variety of ideologies each like to claim Putin as being of their school of thought, when in reality Putin is far more moderate than people realize.
Putin tries not to divide people into sectarian or ethnic lines, but rather to unite the entire country for the greater good of the whole. Before we explain what this support of Muslim education means in the context of Russian culture, let us first listen to Putin’s words in full before immediately taking our favorite soundbites and appropriating him to justify our cause.
Putin spoke on the importance of education for young Muslim people, as there exist many harmful ideas which target them. Dangerous radical groups often seek to recruit new members among young people in the Muslim regions of Russia. The Russian president realizes the truth applies here that education is paramount. Far more effective than guns and tight border control, or the disastrous immigration policies we have seen in Europe, letting in murderers and rapists disguised as refugees, education is the key to turning young Muslim people into opponents of radical ideologies, rather than becoming radicalized by terrorists.
Education is preventative in nature. It is crucial to teach critical thinking skills which can actively prevent young people from supporting radical thought. Putin described this when meeting with Russian Muslim leaders in Kazan:
These ideas, even destructive ones, can only be tackled in one way – through other ideas. Those, which are being promoted and taught to the people in the Theological Academy, which was created here [in Kazan] and in other academies and educational institutions… in Moscow, Ufa and the Caucasus,” he said.
Putin also said that:
Traditional Islam is an important part of Russia’s cultural code and that the Muslim community is, undoubtedly, a very important part of the Russian multinational population.
Russian Muslims from the core Russian territories like Kazan (Tatarstan), Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, (as opposed to the more volatile Caucasus) are some of the most peaceful and well integrated [into a European society] Muslims in the world.
Cynics who imagine Muslims are all terrorists should realize that the idea of a terrorist attack in Kazan perpetrated by local Tatars (as opposed to terrorists from the Caucasus, or abroad) is almost unthinkable.
So why is it that a Muslim region of Russia can be quite peaceful, whereas there are around 3000 violent extremists in Sweden with Islamist ideology. What is the difference between Muslims who have lived in Russia for centuries, and those from abroad?
The difference between how Russia successfully deals with and educates Muslims vs the western model reveals a critical failure of education from every level of society, particularly in two fields:
- Very poor knowledge of one’s own European, Christian culture and history.
How can anyone begin to respect a foreign culture if they have zero understanding of their own culture and history?
- Very poor knowledge of Islamic history, and Muslim cultures. Very poor experience dealing with ANY foreign culture.
Most westerners have a very poor understanding of foreign cultures. Even those who wish to welcome Muslims often know very little about them, their languages, their histories, and often confuse the religion for a race. Comparing a shamanistic Tatar-Mongolian Muslim to a Saudi Arabian Sunni Muslim, to a most secular Azerbaijani is like comparing the English, Italians, and Russians. They have some basic religious and European roots, beyond which they are totally different.
Ignorance of one’s Own Culture
It is surprising and sad how many Western Europeans have fallen victim to internationalist globalism, which disdains local culture. It is simply not fashionable in Western Europe to be a patriot. One can talk about “European values” which allows Ukraine to tear itself apart, and Scandinavian women to fall victim to brutal sexual assaults, but it is considered almost extremist to be willing to defend one’s culture. You may find more French young people who sing American pop songs, and read Japanese comics than those who would proudly sing la marseillaise or read Les Misérables.
In Russia, the situation is quite different. The entire country isn’t filled with Cossacks riding bears on every street constantly singing folk songs and screaming “Glory to Russia”. Sadly, you can still find amongst some groups, lack of enthusiasm towards one’s own culture and history, but generally speaking, Russians are far more patriotic than western Europeans.
I feel the number of Russian men and women who would fight for Russia is FAR higher than displayed, but Russians are a lot like Ilia Muromets. They sleep like him, passively, but once awakened i.e. once Russia is threatened, they arise and defend the Motherland. Even if they don’t have every aspect of their history memorized, many Russians will tell you Russia is the best country in the world with genuine Faith. That respect for own’s own culture is key to respecting others. How can you respect another if you don’t even respect yourself – better yet, how can you expect a foreign people to respect yours, if you don’t respect your own?
How the West Approaches Foreign Cultures
The West’s general lack of self-consciousness often displays itself in two opposite ways:
- A rabid, xenophobic, hatred of foreign cultures. Like all racist ideologies, it’s largely based on ignorance. These people are not unlike small dogs who bark and bite at strangers because they feel constantly threatened and insecure about themselves. Perhaps if they studied their own history and culture, they would find something to be proud of. These people claim to be patriots, though xenophobic racist suits them better.
- A naive, disingenuine professed love for all peoples, more the result of virtue signaling and a desire to fit in with the globalist elite and the PC crowd than a genuine understanding of another culture. These people are like prey animals that simply lay down and cower when threatened, and they’re allowing violent extremists into Europe by the literal boatloads all for the sake of proving to the world how tolerant they are, even unto death. These people claim to be cosmopolitans, with a hatred for nationalism.
Russia has an entirely different approach.
How Russia Approaches Foreign Cultures
Russian patriotism is one of the most unique and ancient in the world. Historian Egor Kholmogorov, a living legend amongst conservatives goes as far as to say Russia is the birthplace of patriotism, with the most primordial sense of continuous nationhood in Europe – and I agree.
Whether or not you agree with that statement, it is undeniable Russia approaches Patriotism different from the west. This is how Vladimir Putin is able to be a devout Orthodox Chrisitan, but support Muslim people in establishing schools for their children in Russia. This is how Russia is able to shake hands with the Prime Minister of Israel in one moment, and in another, the President of Iran, receiving both with statesmanship and respect, even if Russia does not agree with either. Russia, in fact, does not agree with one of those aforementioned “gentlemen”, more than the other, but I’ll leave our readers to guess who. You’re all smart, you’ll figure it out.
Of all the worlds superpowers, only Russia could do such a thing, as meeting two diametrically opposed powers, while maintaining it’s own strong interests and national pride. It is in this unique Russian mentality that reveals how Russia is able to reconcile itself, and Kholmogorov describes it perfectly:
Russian national awareness evolved in a different way. It was not directed against a neighbor…Russian self-awareness was based on a positive patriotism, on love for one’s own land, people, culture, and ruler. The rejection of others expressed itself not in hatred but in a good-natured gibe similar to the manner in which The Lay of the Ruin describes the neighbors of Rus’.
The “foreign” becomes a threat only if it is injurious and harmful to Russian identity. It is menacing not as an external but as an internal threat, as demonstrated by the Time of Troubles.
How Russia Approaches Muslim Cultures
That quote above is key to how Russia deals with Muslim cultures. Russians are able to be profoundly patriotic, but lacking the xenophobia and racism of western extremists like white nationalists and Neo-Nazis. Russia approaches Muslims from a position of gentile strength, like it does all cultures. Russia says “This is not your land, this is Russian land, it is ours, but you are welcome to share it. In time…maybe you will become Russian”
Russia will respect all foreign cultures, but always honor Russian Orthodox culture above all else, teaching foreigners how to integrate into Russian society rather than teaching Russians “cultural sensitivity” and forcing them to adapt to strangers. American conservative Russophiles upset at finding a Spanish language option in their country may be surprised to know every republic in Russia with its own ethnic group has the right to use their own language on official papers together with Russian. The difference is the strength of the Russian culture in society means indigenous people often choose to use Russian above all by their own accord.
Russian foreign policy is epitomized in the words of Saint Alexander Nevsky
Those who come to us with the sword will die by the sword.
His example of allying with the Mongols to fight the German Catholic knights is touted by Eurasianists and Western Nationalists alike as proof Russia choose to be an Asian culture, but this is false. Saint Alexander preferred the Mongols because unlike the Teutonic Knights, who wanted Russia to convert to Catholicism, they simply wanted money, and did not pose a threat to the Russian culture. Russia welcomes all peoples, but she will always defend her culture.
In the 16th century, Czar Ivan the Terrible famously defeated the Khanate of Kazan destroying the last great remanent of the Golden Horde. His victory is depicted on one of the most famous Icons in the world “Blessed be the Hosts of the Heavenly Czar”
The icon depicts Ivan’s victory of Kazan as an army of Angles and Saints departing burning Sodom and Gomorrah towards a heavenly city.
Russians are not ashamed of this icon, even as Kazan is a major city in Russia. The idea of Russians apologizing to Tatars for conquering them hundreds of years ago is unthinkable. Russia abolished slavery amongst them, built their roads and cities.
For centuries they lived together, they defended Russia together, and Tatar children learn in Russian schools. It is thanks to this education that Tatar people were uplifted to space, joining the ranks of Russian cosmonauts.
This is Putin’s strategy, when he spoke to Kazan people about the need for Muslim education. Like it or hate it, the reality is Muslims have lived in Russia for hundreds of years…they’re part of the country. Putin refused to take the xenophobic approach which empowers the rhetoric of extremists, nor does he let radical Islam pose a threat to Russia. While the idea of radical Islam is Kazan is mostly unthinkable – the people there are heavily Russified and almost totally assimilated, more prone to agnosticism than devout Islam, the threat in the Caucasus is very real.
Unlike the more core Muslim regions in Russia like Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, where most of the population is Russian or mixed, the Caucasus were incorporated into Russia later in history, and lacked the centuries of Russian integration and education that pacified the Tatars.
Putin’s leadership proves that Russia will take a proactive role in educating young Muslims to be loyal Russian citizens.
It further demonstrates that the world should look to Russia to see a successful healthy interaction with Muslims rather than the “tolerant” west, as described in the RT report:
Among other things, the Russian Muslim organizations stage the annual International Muslim Forum, which brings together Muslim leaders from Europe and elsewhere. “They hear us; they see how we develop; how good the relations of the Russian Muslims with the country’s authorities are and how we are being supported by our president,” Russian Grand Mufti Ravil Gainutdin said.
According to Gainutdin, Russian Muslims are “a sort of a ‘soft power’ in promoting our model of development of civil society… I recently accepted the US ambassador, then his counterpart from Spain. We’re not politicians and diplomats, but we have our own people’s diplomacy – we talk to them, turning them to our side.”
Putin’s words and actions have touched the hearts of Russia’s Muslims in a real way. Just listen to how the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov supports Putin:
“These are not just words, Vladimir Putin has constantly proven that he is fulfilling his promises. While the United States and their allies are bringing wars and destruction to the Muslim world, Russia is consistently defending the interests of the Islamic nations and peoples,” the Chechen leader wrote.
In his message, Kadyrov also drew attention to a more recent statement by the Russian president. Last Wednesday, Putin met with representatives of Muslim clergy in the city of Kazan, and said that Russian authorities would support Islamic education through major state universities and other means.
Kadyrov supported Putin’s stance on the issue. “In Chechnya alone there are two Islamic universities, six Hafiz schools [dedicated schools for studying and memorizing the Quran] and dozens of Madrasas. For this, we are sincerely grateful to Vladimir Vladimirovich. But all rights are tied to responsibilities, and I am convinced that Muslims must actively counter the destructive and anti-Islamic movements such as Wahhabism. Conciliatory positions never lead to anything good, and we will always adhere to our position that we must never allow Wahhabism to rear its head in any of the Russian regions,” the Chechen leader wrote.
Putin faced the issues head-on, standing firm to his beliefs, but offering a genuine partnership with Russia’s Muslims. As a result of his patronage and support, they have proven loyal to Russia, and many are fighting in the Russian armed forces against Islamic terrorists in Syria and abroad.
In conclusion, Putin’s policy on Islam, and the success of the Russian model as opposed to western one can be revealed in the microcosm of Chechnya compared to countries in which the west intervened.
The picture above is Grozny, the Chechen capital during the war, not a building was left standing. Indeed, Russia raised it to the ground. The difference…
Russia Rebuilt Grozny
Grozny has been rebuilt into a beautiful, modern city, thanks to cooperation between Russians and Chechens.
Russia assumed full responsibility for Chechnya. Russia didn’t simply bomb it into the stone age and say “Okay, here’s your new democracy. Enjoy! Oh, and do sell us your oil and or natural reserves! No hard feelings for the war…right?” To do that would simply create a breeding center for terrorism within Russia.
Russia rebuilt the city, taking an active role in the construction of not only infrastructure, by civil society.
When Chechens see beautiful squares, clean roads, and tall blue skyscrapers, they know who to thank.
The situation in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, etc is…well…
We may as well add Ukraine to the list. Russia didn’t invade Ukraine, but Ukrainian nationalists should maybe…just maybe wish she did…if the pattern continues, Ukraine would be rebuilt by now.
The reality speaks for itself. The West only knows how to destroy, be destroyed (mostly by itself), whereas Russia knows how to educate and built real cities and communities for the national unity of the Motherland.