Reviews

On the basis of recent opinion polls, this article aims at correcting several commonplaces on the mutual perception of Orthodoxy and Islam in the Federation of Russia. The author notably shows that the idea of a derogatory representation of Islam in Russia’s public opinion must be qualified. He then puts into perspective the idea of a higher level of supra-ethnic solidarity among Muslims, if compared with the Orthodox citizens of the Federation of Russia ― especially in a period characterised, since the late 1990s, by the rise of the defence of distinct ethnic minorities in the framework of enlarged administrative territories directly submitted to the “vertical of power.” Remarking the rarity of attacks against specifically Muslim targets in Russia (against mosques and cemeteries in particular), the author insists on the absence of hostility of Orthodox religious authorities towards Islam, and at the same time on their refusal of any kind of proselytism on the territory of the Federation of Russia. The issue of mosques in Orthodox-majority regions and districts is dealt with through the variety of local situations, and of the general hostility of Orthodox activists towards the development of Islamic practice in neighbourhoods and districts recently peopled by migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia (through concrete examples from Voronezh, Kostroma, Sochi, Togliatti, Iuzhno-Sakhalinsk, etc.). Last, in the absence of statistics, the phenomenon of conversion of Tatars to Orthodoxy and of Russians to Islam is broached in an impressionistic way, with mention of the hostility raised among the most conservative Orthodox clergy by the “threat of Russia’s Islamisation.” If this short study appears sometimes excessively optimistic, it nevertheless tackles with much more subtlety than in Russia’s mass media varied aspects and protagonists of Orthodox-Muslim relationship in the country today.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-4.1.B-332