Reviews

The author of this detailed article draws a link between the Islamic revival and the growth of national claims among Crimean Tatars. Compared with other national movements (Noghai, Karachai or Balkar) which declined during the 1990s, the Crimean Tatar movement remains popular long after the July 1987 demonstration on the Red Square proclaiming: “Rodina ili smert (fatherland or death).” According to local activists, this purpose has been fulfilled as more than four millions Crimean Tatars (deported in 1944 by Stalin) have been repatriated and have obtained the Ukrainian citizenship. Based on a strong internal organisation (local mäjlis represented in a qurultai electing a central Milli Mäjlis) and an effective lobbying activity inside the Ukrainian Rada, this success is explained by the relevance of religious references on national ideology. According to Mustafa Jämilev, the historical leader of Crimean Tatars, “Islam remains the hearth of our national culture.” Representing 12% of Crimea’s population, the Tatars currently tend to fix their difference with Russians through their Muslim identity. There were 120 mosques and 320 Muslim communities registered in Crimea in 2003. Using fieldworks observations (unfortunately, some interviews are not very recent), the author expresses interesting statements on the permanency of identification structures inside changing situational contexts. The most interesting part of the article is certainly the description of everyday life in Crimean Islamic communities: Islamic feasts provided in Tatar villages, ongoing claims to get back ancient mosque buildings and to reinforce the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Crimea. Unfortunately, the author refers to overused explanations (on bad influences from the outside) for analysing the development of Islamic radicalism in Crimea. After ironical remarks on the geographical proximity of a “Wahhabi” centre and the Milli Mäjlis building, the author concludes his article on general considerations about the dangers of Islamic radicalism for the Crimean Tatars national movement.

Xavier Le Torrivellec, French-Russian Centre for Human Sciences, Moscow
CER: II-7.2-580