- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Muslim birthrate worries Russia
MOSCOW — Low domestic birthrates and rising immigration from the former Soviet republics are producing explosive growth in Russia’s Muslim community, which is on a track to account for more than half the population by midcentury.
“Russia is going through a religious transformation that will be of even greater consequence for the international community than the collapse of the Soviet Union,” said Paul Goble, a specialist on Islam in Russia and research associate at the University of Tartu in Estonia.
Two decades ago, the Sobornaya Mosque was the only Islamic house of worship allowed in the Soviet Union. It stood largely empty, filling only with the occasional large foreign delegation from an Islamic country.
Today, it is one of four mosques in Moscow serving a Muslim population of about 2.5 million. On Fridays and holy days, it overflows with worshippers, leaving many to kneel on newspapers outside, their foreheads pressed against the concrete.
As in many countries with growing Islamic populations, tensions are also on the rise. Many ethnic Russians fear their country is losing its traditional identity, while many Muslims are offended by widespread discrimination and a lack of respect for their faith.
Russia’s Muslim community is extremely diverse, including Volga Tatars, the myriad ethnicities of the North Caucasus and newly arrived immigrants from Central Asia. But they all share birthrates that are far higher than Russia’s ethnic Slavs, most of whom are Orthodox Christians.
Russia’s overall population is dropping at a rate of 700,000 people a year, largely because of the short life spans and low birthrates of ethnic Russians. According to the CIA World Factbook, the national fertility rate is 1.28 children per woman, far below what is needed to maintain the country’s population of nearly 143 million. The rate in Moscow is even lower, at 1.1 children per woman.
Russia’s Muslims, however, are bucking that trend. The fertility rate for Tatars living in Moscow is six children per woman, Mr. Goble said, while the Chechen and Ingush communities are averaging 10 children per woman. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Muslims from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have been flocking to Russia in search of work.
Russia’s Muslim population has increased by 40 percent since 1989, to about 25 million. By 2015, Muslims will make up a majority of Russia’s conscript army and by 2020 one-fifth of the population.
“If nothing changes, in 30 years, people of Muslim descent will definitely outnumber ethnic Russians,” Mr. Goble said.
For many Slavic Russians, the prospect of becoming a minority in their country is terrifying.
“Russia is historically a Slavic, Orthodox Christian land, and we need to make sure it stays that way,” said Alexander Belov, the head of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, an increasingly powerful lobby that has organized dozens of rallies in recent months.
Attacks on mosques have been on the rise, and in September an imam in the southern city of Kislovodsk was fatally shot outside his home. During days of rioting in August, mobs chased Chechens and other migrants out of the northwestern town of Kondopoga.
Sensing the nationalist mood, Russian authorities have begun to crack down with laws designed to defend Orthodox Christianity and restrict the activities and movement of Muslims.
Most Muslims living in Russia are not immigrants, but natives of lands seized by the expanding Russian empire. Islam is recognized as one of Russia’s official religions, along with Orthodox Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism.
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
- Italy outraged over U.S. gun dealer's 'David' ad
- Why Malaysia Airlines jet might have disappeared?
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again