Taking part in the meeting were representatives of the Coordination Centre of Muslims of the North Caucasus, the Central Spiritual Board of Muslims, the Russian Council of Muftis, the Russian Association of Islamic Harmony, and the Spiritual Board of the Muslims of the Republic of Tatarstan.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon,
I felt it was imperative to invite you to another meeting, to meet with you as the heads of the major Muslim communities in Russia, and to discuss our interaction and cooperation. And I would like to begin by saying that the Government of Russia and the people of our country truly value the work that you are steadily carrying out to support peace and interfaith harmony, the input you are making into the spiritual and moral education of our people, and your broad community service both with young people and other categories of our population, as well as your active work on educational projects. You deal with difficult issues such as social adaptation for migrants, which is an area where the government and religious communities need to act together, cooperating as closely as possible.
Russia’s Muslim community has been developing dynamically in recent years: new mosques are being built, and new Islamic universities, madrassas, and cultural centres have opened. All of this is encouraging, because it aids in resolving a wide variety of problems, and ultimately, helps a large number of our nation’s Muslim citizens feel like true citizens of as large and complicated a state as the Russian Federation.
Today, religious Muslim organisations are also helping schools teach the principles of religious culture. An institute for military chaplains is also being formed with your participation (I believe that this is absolutely right), so that Russia’s major faiths are involved. You are participating in the Presidential Council for Coordination with Religious Organisations, as well as the Commission for Religious Associations and the Civic Chamber. Besides, we have regular consultations on the issues of prime significance for the country, such as issues of domestic migration for example, and it would be particularly meaningful if you were to give this matter even more attention. At the same time, conditions are being created for people of non-Caucasus ethnic backgrounds to return to the Caucasus region, and here, I think that Muslim organisations could also be more involved in this process.
A while ago, I gave instructions to set working groups on harmonising interethnic relations. I would like to know how much you are currently participating in such groups, how useful you find them to be, and how well they are performing; we should talk about this as well.
In addition, I suppose it would be right to direct some grants allotted to nongovernmental organisations toward implementing programmes for acclimating migrants, because this is a difficult, highly multifaceted challenge.
Terrorism and extremism remain among the most serious problems faced by our society. You know that we are fighting with them constantly and uncompromisingly, and I would like to specifically say that in this regard, our regional Muslim organisations are on the very frontlines. I would also like to note that your fight for the purity of the faith and simply for the people – for Muslims – requires an enormous personal courage. In the last year alone, about 20 reputable religious figures that actively spoke out against attempts to link extremist ideas to Islam have been killed by terrorists. An attack occurred just recently; on June 7, in which Maksud Sadikov, the rector of the Institute of Theology and International Relations, was killed in Makhachkala. I would like to let you know that I have signed the Executive Order on awarding the Order of Courage to Maksud Sadikov. Let’s honour his memory.
We will certainly support his family, just as we do with families of our other fallen brethren. I believe this is the government’s duty. It is the right thing to do, in every sense of the word.
We understand that the problem of countering terrorism does not have any quick resolutions; otherwise, Russia and other nations would have taken care of it a long time ago. But the most important element in this struggle is for us to be unified in our determination and consistent in our efforts.
I just chaired a meeting of the Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights and we spent a long time discussing this topic. We talked about how the government, regional authorities and the Muslim community bear a major responsibility for bringing back people that have gotten ‘lost’ through involvement with criminals but have not committed heinous offences. I think if we work in this sustained manner, then this goal, though difficult, is entirely achievable, because humanity has always found within itself the power to manage a large number of problems and threats. There should be no doubt that we will find this kind of strength within ourselves.
When it comes to these issues, we must rely on a joint, consolidated position of all our people, as well as the support of the global community, including the community of Muslim states. The development of friendly ties between the Russian Federation and the Islamic world remains a priority for Russia. We must do this and we must work on developing such ties with the most reputed key international organisations of the Muslim world. Of course, we have traditionally helped Russian Muslims make Hajj, and will keep doing so.
I have addressed only some of the questions we can discuss today. I would like to sincerely thank you for meeting with me here in Kabardino-Balkaria, because this is one of the most important republics that has a particular set of problems which the head of the republic and I have just discussed in a meeting, but there is a determination to overcome these problems. I hope that we will also see results.
Let’s begin our work.