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Muslims in North Caucasus concerned about ‘extremism'
April 23rd, 2013
09:47 AM ET

Muslims in North Caucasus concerned about ‘extremism'

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – A majority of Muslims (57%) in Russia’s North Caucasus – including Chechnya, Dagestan and five other Russian jurisdictions – are either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about religious extremist groups in their country, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

That number is higher than Russia as a whole, where more than four-in-10 Muslims in the country express the same level of concern.

This region of the world, particularly Chechnya and Dagestan, has been in the news recently because the suspects in last week’s Boston Marathon bombing – Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger brother who is still alive, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother who died in a shootout last week – had familial ties to the region.

The two brothers were born in Kyrgyzstan, where 62% of Muslims told Pew they were very or somewhat concerned about extremism in the central Asian country.

Monday night, Dzhokhar told investigators that his older brother, Tamerlan, was the mastermind behind the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured more than 260 people. Tamerlan appears to have become increasingly religious in the years leading up to the bombing, and interviews with family in Russia indicate that the older brother was radicalized while in America.

While there is so far no evidence that the brothers were associated to international jihadist groups, in August 2012, soon after returning from a long visit to Russia, Tamerlan created a YouTube channel with links to a number of videos including sermons or interviews with radical preachers.

Though extremist groups from Chechnya have carried out terrorist acts since the early 2000s, most of those attacks have been focused on Russia. An example: the Beslan school hostage crises in September 2004, where more than 300 people were killed.

Though experts say the Caucasus are quieter now, Thomas de Waal, an expert on the region, says there is a constant a low-level Islamist insurgency there.

The Pew data released Tuesday is part of a larger report on the state of Islam conducted from October 2011 to February 2012, with research collected before the Boston bombings.

The survey also found that Muslims in Russia’s North Caucasus – the dominant religion in the region – are more concerned about Islamic extremist groups than Christian groups. Thirty-six percent of Muslims said they were primarily worried about Islamic extremists, while only 2% indicated they were worried about Christian groups.

Russia, as a whole, is primarily Christian, with 73% of its population identifying with the faith, according to Pew’s 2012 Global Religious Landscape report. About 10% of the country’s population is Muslim – most of which live in the Russian Caucasus.

Likewise, in the brothers' birthplace of Kyrgyzstan, 32% of Muslims were concerned about Islamic extremist groups, while 5% were concerned with Christian extremism. According to Pew’s numbers on world religions, Muslims make up 88% of the country’s population, while 11% of Kyrgyz people are Christian.

In light of the bombing, Muslim leaders in Boston and around the United States condemned the attacks. “I don't care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community," said Yusufi Vali, executive director for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in the Boston area.

Imam Talal Eid, the imam at the Boston Islamic Institute, told CNN that he would refuse to give Tamerlan last rites. "A person who is devoted does not kill innocent people," Eid said.

- CNN’s Eric Marrapodi and Jake Tapper contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Islam • Polls • Russia • Terrorism

soundoff (902 Responses)
  1. Steve

    How much longer can they defend their religion? Realistically. If our only contact with this religion is on the news about another "radical" blowing up innocent people why would their polls be any different? It's not the media's fault, where are the muslims contributions to their communities outside of violence? If their "normal" members do nothing besides produce radicals then they aren't innocent either. The religion not good.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Reality

      How much longer you can defend the dropping bombs on innocents in the name of God give right to steal the land and resources.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Canada

      first of. no one is innocent, secondly. It wasn't theirs to begin with.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Reality

      Not from the original Reality.

      April 23, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  2. JP

    "Muslims in North Caucasus concerned about ‘extremism’ within their faith".....

    Not enough to RAT out the extremists

    April 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Reality

      How many people are concerned about the gun violence which kills whole lot more than terrorism ?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Reality

      Not from the original Reality.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  3. Jesus

    He who is without sin, throw the first stone...

    April 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Islam4fools

      I have never committed an act of terrorism. I would be happy to throw stones at these radical Islamic terrorists.

      I really hope no one has to suffer like 6 year old Aisha who married 60 year old prophet Mohammed

      April 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • ME II

      The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53–8:11

      John 8:7
      "And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.'"

      (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%5D%207:53%E2%80%938:11&version=ESV)

      April 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Reality

      Fool, but you supported the Zionazi terrorism.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • DeNorte

      Oh, I think the 1st stone has already been thrown, and the 2nd, and the 3rd ...

      April 23, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      That's funny, there are plenty of places in the bible that commands you to throw stones at people until they are dead.

      Deuteronomy 22:22-24 for one.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • paul

      Indeed Me II those verses were added a couple of hundred years after the gospel of John was originally written.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  4. kevobx

    There are no Satanists in the Torah or the new testament?Neither is the word Jew-ish written any where in the Bible either! (Luke 4:8) *1st Timothy 5:15*

    April 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Reality

      IIn 614 AD when Mohammed was spreading Islam peacefully Jews were busy in genocide of 60000 Christians in Jerusalem.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Reality

      Not from the original Reality.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  5. Pritka

    I am concerned that the innocent faithful Muslims and other middle eastern religions in this country will bear the brunt of the actions of these two monsters who acted in the name of Islam. Most folks do not know the difference in Sikhs and Muslims let alone the differences in the Islamic sects. I am an American and a non-believer and do not want to see my country destroyed by anger that is sparked from without but is fed from within this country. We need to control our grief and anger until we can direct it at the actual perpetrators of this atrocity and not at all middle eastern/Asian religions practiced in our country. I dislike any religion that subjugates human beings as the Muslims do women but this is also true of many Christian religions such as Catholics and Mormons.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Reality

      I am concerned about all the Nazi occupations happening in middle east, all the drone killings happening in middle east, all the resources and land stealing happening in middle east.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Reality

      Not from the original Reality.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Pritka

      Reality, Do you think it helps to resolve your concerns to kill innocent people running and watching a marathon in Boston on a sunny April day? Are your concerns so radical as to ignore basic human decency in a free country so far from the Middle East ? If you do not want to see innocent American Muslims targeted get a clue. Your concerns are with the Middle East, spreading hate and fear in America will not resolve them.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  6. liberal disease

    worries me too!, we have a former terrorist teaching at Columbia U! and we wonder why people radicalize in the US? go no further than your america bashing professors at for example HARVARD!

    April 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Lycidas

      This would not happen if God hadn't been taken out of schools. I pray for them.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Ly prays for the gods taken from schools!

      April 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Caveman Ugh

      You speak the good the english William.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Ever hear of the seperation of church and state? Religion has no place in schools. Or have you never read Matthew 6:5-6?

      5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

      6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Terry

      I had no idea that George W. Bush was teaching at Columbia...

      April 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Reality

      Now America bashing is equivalent to extremism, that means whole Venezuela is extremist country now. Why don't you guys invade those South American countries than ?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Reality

      Not from the original Reality.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Pritka

      We don't have and should not even consider "thought police" in this country. A sick person can fixate on an idea whether true or false from a magazine, an online chat, a book, a sermon, the Bible, the Quran, or a radical professor or religious leader. We cannot stop what people are thinking and we cannot and should not try to stop free speech and exchange of ideas. Let us not lose more freedoms to fear.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Canada

      Honey Badger. You did not understand that text of Mathew. It is about personal gain, looking righteous to onlookers because you are Preaching loudly for all to see... therefore making you look better to other people. not because you are looking for credit from God. it then goes on to say how those type of people are double minded in everything they do. nothing to do with separation of church and state. However I do partially agree with Sep. of C&S

      April 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      I see you're out of your closet.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Canada

      seeing as how you use the bible to further you're notions of what the world should be like, and you have oh so great wisdom behind its meanings, do you have any other examples from the bible of separation of Church and state? Funny, because even as a Christian, I know several. But I'll let your scholarly knowledge enlighten us.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  7. stevehc1

    ONLY 57% reported being "concerned" about extremists (presumably violent extremists) within their own faith (Islam) ?
    WOW – That's not exactly reassuring to the rest of us, who are *constantly* being told how "peaceful" Islam is.

    And for all of the "talk" about how "peaceful" Islam is *supposed* to be, and the *verbal* denunciation of violence perpetrated by those who profess the Islamic faith, I see only *governments* – and SOME WESTERN-ONLY mosques and congregants actually trying to do something about the violence being perpetrated in the name of Islam.

    This is a SERIOUS problem that threatens democracy and the possibility of world peace. Sooner or later non-Muslims and non-Islamists are going to have to face up to and deal with it in much more concrete ways than they currently do.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • af66

      That is exactly my thinking. 57% is not really majority... that means there is a whopping 43% that don't think extremism is a problem!?!?! That 43% is a lot of Muslims and can be a force to be reckon with!

      April 23, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Reality

      Gun violence kills 33000 people in America every year, so how many people are concerned about it ?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Reality

      Not from the original Reality.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  8. Citizen Matt

    "Extremism" in anything is worrisome. Religion and politics especially because they touch everyone in some manner. While I believe that the majority of people are not so extreme, the extreme are the loudest from every sect and side. Think about who you hear most about in the news, the extreme conservatives, the extreme liberals, the extreme christians and muslims. Blame the media for giving them a voice. And shame on anyone for buying into their extremism.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Atheists scream and cry the loudest.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • FYI

      ATHEISTS DON'T SCREAM BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO SOULS TO FILL WITH THEIR FEAR.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Lycidas

      That doesn't make any sense. But ok.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • FYI

      NEITHER DO YOU, ESPECIALLY AFTER THE 11 O'CLOCK HOUR TODAY. BUT THAT'S EASILY EXPLAINED.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Your caps lock key is stuck. Just a little FYI for you.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • An Awesome Message from P.W. Swivel

      People are People

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbD3Hlbvafo

      Thanks for watching.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • FYI

      YOU DON'T SAY?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  9. McBob79

    The AP is unbelievably reporting that these two fell into a pattern that led them to radicalism... they couldn't "fit in" in the U.S. I'm just shocked that they could seriously report that line or reasoning. One was married, one went to high school and college and was on the wrestling team, but didn't "fit in"? The media is so blind, but fany themselves and deep thinkers. It's actually kind of funny to watch.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  10. CLICK ON REPORT ABUSE FOR ISLAM FOUNDATION

    oh no he is crapping again !!!

    April 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  11. William Demuth

    I grew up in the Big City, and for years they would talk about Black on White crime, or White on Black crime.

    If we use these standards in this venue, and compare dead Muslims to dead Christians, it is QUITE clear who is the aggressor culture.

    I suspect the ratio is at a minimum twenty to one.

    If body counts are reality, the Muslims are getting stomped.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Entil'za

      Do you count domestic violence in with that? Because I do believe that the status of women in the Muslim dominated Middle East would imply that they are far more hurtful.
      I mean which would you allow your daughter to visit? A Christian dominated nation like the US or a Muslim dominated nation like Jordan or Saudi Arabia?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      In truth I have a daughter, and I wont let her go south of the Jersey Shore

      Rednecks scare me FAR more than towel heads.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Entil'za

      You know saying Jersey Shore doesn't exactly make you seem like a responsible parent right? I'm certain the ppl in Ohio, Penn and as far as Los Angelas appreciates being lumped in with your biased "redneck" grouping.

      So, you are saying that it would be safer to send her to Jordan than to Maryland? Oookay.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Ent

      I said south of me.

      West? The land of fruits and nuts? All good.

      But East Coast's "south" are a bunch of inbred hillbillies of the WORST order.

      Better she be in Tehran than South Carolina

      April 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Reality

      If you are pointing out status of women, Than I would like to point out status of women in Congo, Swaziland , those are Christians countries, what about the status of women in India where they are killed before birth. at least middle eastern countries don't kill 500000 girl child in womb every year like other non Muslim countries.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Entil'za

      "But East Coast's "south" are a bunch of inbred hillbillies of the WORST order."

      So Maryland is worse than Iran eh?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Reality

      Not from the original Reality.

      April 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
  12. lagergeld

    Right on cue - liberal CNN apologists for Muslim in spite of Islam's track record of wanton slaughter.

    Hint: If Islam were benign, it would market itself.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      christianity is not benign, but it markets itself

      April 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • ME II

      @lagergeld,
      "If Islam were benign, it would market itself."

      Talk about non-sequitor. What does marketing have to do with benefit? Let's ask the Marlborough Man...

      April 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Reality

      Slaughter like WW2 slaughter of 66 millions by Christians ?
      Slaughter of Vietnamese by Christians ?
      Slaughter of Red Indians by Christians ?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  13. ME II

    "The survey also finds that few Muslims across the region support the use of violence against civilians in the name of Islam, though there is somewhat more support for suicide bombing and similar violence among Muslims in Kyrgyzstan than in Russia or Kazakhstan."
    ( http://www.pewforum.org/Muslim/Most-Muslims-in-Region-Reject-Violence-Against-Civilians.aspx )

    April 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  14. DaTrufHurts

    I have yet to see a single truly world-renowned Islamic cleric outright condemn terrorism. Every time they speak on it, they have qualifiers.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  15. Lycidas

    Atheism is the most dangerous of all religions.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Is baldness a hair color?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Cup Noodle

      Lycidas, you are brilliant. Thank you for your insight.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Entil'za

      Atheism might be considered a belief but it is not a religion.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Typical Christian

      Yes, bald is a hair color.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Typical Atheist

      Yes, I'm clever. Just ask me and I'll tell you.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Lycidas

      It is in FACT a religion. You base your faith in science. Therefore it is a faith-based religion.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Segoy

      Shut up.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Lycidas obviously doesn't let logic get in the way of her stupidity.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Most balls in the redneck comunity belong to the Biatch Bible Thumpers.

      No wonder their men as so pathetic.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Entil'za

      She is def not paying attention.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Thank you for providing all of your astounding evidence otherwise. Especially the comment telling me to shut up. That was very moving and profound.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Holy Hallucinations 37

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z890j0VB0wQ

      April 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • FYI

      Faith in science isn't a religious faith. One takes the info present and figures out a hypothesis from that info. One can never really have all the info depending on the subject and might have to lean a little on faith and hope they are correct.
      But there is no diety of science.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Terry

      "It is in FACT a religion. You base your faith in science. Therefore it is a faith-based religion."

      It would be a religion if atheists said "We know exactly how everything works and will ignore science if it ever proves our current position wrong."

      Instead atheists say "We don't know exactly how everything works, and will continue searching, but as of yet there is exactly zero evidence for God"

      That is not a religion. That is a current belief based on current science.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Exactly. Faith equals religion. Science is the false god in which you worship.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Lycidas

      Are you just incapable of actually telling the difference between science and religion? Are you that blinded?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Entil'za

      @hawaiiguest- I am quite sure the person using the Lycidas handle knows the difference but if you look at the amount of recent comments from this person...they are obviously a handle stealing troll. They have been around since 11AM today.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  16. steve-0

    Extremism scares me too...Extreme Muslims, Jews, Christians, tea party, nutso liberals–they are all the problem

    April 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  17. Kevin Lawton

    "Maybe this religion could do us a favor and leave the dark ages and join the rest of reality here on Earth in 2012." You are aware it is 2013 right?

    April 23, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  18. Jay

    I would consider a christian more dangerous than a Muslim.

    April 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • DaTrufHurts

      Then by all means move to Afghanistan and live among your chosen people, Jay. I have to wonder if people really think about what they type sometimes...

      April 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @DaTruf

      Kind of like you?

      April 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Rmatangi

      That simply means you have lost contact with reality!

      April 23, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Canada

      lol, just lol, yea, Go to any number of countries with a foundation of mosaic law, and Christian fundamentals, ya know like, USA, Canada, Great Britain, France.... Terribly dangerous countries. I myself prefer Yemen, Myanmar, Syria, Iran, PALESTINE. only because I love living on the edge, and dodging a few good stonings.
      – from an educated person.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Joe800

      And you would be wrong. Which is why the world is terrorized by muslim terrorists.

      April 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  19. Alias

    I'm still waiting for someone to actually look at what MLK was saying. Just because this guy was a wackjob doesn't mean he didn't have some good points. "I have a dream ..." is what MLK is remembered for, but that wasn't all he said.

    April 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  20. LB

    Runners up for the Wine of the Times are MD 20/20 and Night Train with a close third going to Italian Swiss Colony Tyrolia.

    April 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Dude

      RIPPLE.

      Mix it with Champale, you get Champipple!

      April 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.