Sunday, July 17, 2016

Muslims to Add Their Voice to Russia’s Hard-Pressed Environmental Defense Movement

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – Few groups have elicited as much popular support and as much government repression as Russia’s hard-pressed environmental defense movement, but now its members are getting a new source of support -- Russia’s Muslim community – that may help them in some places but be used by Moscow against it in others.

            The Union of Muftis of Russia (SMR) has created a special commission on ecological development that is charged with promoting the values of halal and ecologically responsible use of the environment and educating the Muslims of Russia about the ways in which these two related values must inform Islamic action ( and

            Those behind this effort stress that they are taking this step because Vladimir Putin has declared 2017 to be the year of ecology and they want the Muslims of Russia to be part of that. But the commitment of the SMR to environmental protection almost certainly will bring it and Russia’s Muslims into conflict with the Kremlin.

            That is because the two regions where the central Russian government has most ridden roughshod over the environment are the North Caucasus, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, and the Far North, which is increasingly populated by Muslims either through conversion or by the arrival of migrant workers from regions that are.

            In announcing the formation of this body, Mufti Ravil Gainutdin, the head of the SMR, said that “the umma will not remain on the sidelines” when such issues are raised because “the problem of pure water and the problem of purity of products require efforts so that they can become really suitable for human consumption.”


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