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Islamic practice and state policies towards religion in post-Soviet Russia

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What has the Russian state policy towards Islam been in the first two decades after the Soviet collapse, and how has it affected Islamic practice in the country? This study explores Russian state policies towards religion from 1990 to 2017 and discusses their impact on Islamic practice in the country. In the 1990s, relations between the Russian state and Islam (state-Islam relations) were accommodationist: the state granted unrestricted access in the Russian public sphere for all Muslim communities and allowed a wide range of Islamic religious practices. State-Islam relations in the 2000s became increasingly regulatory: the state assumed a more active interventionist role in the affairs of the domestic Islamic community in order to control religious practices of certain Muslim factions and to ensure privileged access in the Russian public sphere for state-approved ‘traditional’ religious organisations. This contribution reveals the dynamics of the Russian state’s attitudes towards the largest minority religion in the country in the first two decades after the collapse of the Soviet state. It also offers analytical insights on the dynamic nature of state-religion relations in other secular states with religiously diverse populations.
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Keywords: Islam; Russia; state-Islam relations; traditional Islam

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Institute of International Relations, Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia

Publication date: March 15, 2019

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