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
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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. R.M. Goodswell

    Finally! THIS is what we want from the religious – self policing. What's funny is Russia (its people, its government) seems to have a much better grip on how to deal with extremists and they are doing it with a fraction of the resources. They warned us about the older of the two brothers......we throw mountains of money at the problem, create whole new agencies, give up freedoms our founders fought for...and still drop the ball.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • meifumado

      Russia , China and Israel know how to deal these people.

      No quarter.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Jack

      The U.S. knew who these two were before they even posted their pictures asking for people's help identifying them. Here's just a little of the proof from DEBKA File:

      The Tsarnaev brothers were double agents who decoyed US into terror trap

      The Tsarnaev brothers were double agents, hired by US & Saudi intelligence to penetrate the Wahhabi jihadist networks. Instead, the two former Chechens betrayed their mission and went secretly over to the radical Islamist networks.


      April 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Mary

      Jack, you mean that rag source that also said Saudia's were involved? Too many conspiracy theories once again...

      April 23, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  2. may40

    Wait a minute, we have a pastor right now in a jail in Iran (Islamic) beating and torturing him because he was building an orphanage. How about the atrocities in Egypt and South Africa against Christians? Yes, see this is what Islam is all about...."if you're not one of us we will kill you". It is NOT a peaceful religion. You're all sticking your heads in the sand if you think otherwise. I have yet to see a legitimate Christian terrorize a Muslim "just because" but have seen over and over again Muslims killing innocent Christians in cold blood. When will you all wake up to reality?????

    April 23, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Lycidas

      The leftists worship science. They want to be tolerant toward extremists because they fear them. But they openly bash those that are peaceful. So much for moral high ground. They are only motivated by cowardess and fear, just like their best friends, the extremists.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Milton

      You could be wrong Lycidas.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Liar shows up again. Lycidas would never make such a mistake. It's "cowardice." Something you know all about, fake.

      April 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  3. kevobx

    Two nations Esau and Jacob. You know them by their manners, what manner are you? (2nd Peter 3:11). *Genesis 27:13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them. *Psalm 109:14 and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. *Nehemiah 13:2 howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      wow, kev...a cut and paste! very impressive indeed!

      April 23, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  4. Patriot

    Survey: 'Muslim Extremism' worries everybody.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm |

      Ya, every hindu criminal by his hindu secular ism, criminal self center ism.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  5. Patriot

    99% of radical muslims are giving the peaceful muslims a bad name.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • meifumado

      So the 99% should do something if they really wanted to, the problem is that the moderates want the same thing as the extremists.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  6. saurov

    non-muslims are more concerned than muslims. not sure when their next blow falls

    April 23, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  7. kevobx

    The truth sets you free! The 144,000 is new Jerusalem *Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. *Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: *Luke 13:31 The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart thence: for Herod will kill thee. (*Acts 23:6*)

    April 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Science

      The fruitcake from xmas past !

      April 23, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  8. NavalAviator

    I'm sure it does distress them...just not enough to do anything about it themselves. You know, the way the rest of the Christian world shut down the IRA?

    April 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  9. PeterD

    When Russians Military goes after these Terrorists in Chechnya and Dagestan, American Government and ACLU crying foul against Russia and Sympathize with Terrorists in the name of Human Rights Violations.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Alias

      That was before 9/11.
      Now we just smile and nod.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  10. SoPoJim

    They should be concerned. The bad Muslims are wreaking havoc in the world. The good Muslims (vast majority) appear to socialize among themselves.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  11. DE

    Conservatives can't admit that ALL religions can be extremist and violent. Religions have brought more pain, suffering, misery and death into this world than any other idea.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Sam Boston

      No, religions can't get violent, people who follow religions can get violent. Hypothetically, may be followers of other religions can turn violent as well but what matters now are the fact on the ground, which is that these terrorist attacks are committed in the name of one religion in particular. When this change, you'll get the opportunity to spill out your hatred on other religions, but until then please stop being an ignorant.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Michael, Chapel Hill

      Accusing Christians and hugging Muslims may not save liberals. If liberals could keep Islamists in friendly terms, Boston bombings would not have happened.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  12. tony

    If someone invited a time machine and it could only be used ones,
    it would be tough choice to either go back top 1939 to stop ww2 from happening
    or year 630 to stop the creation of the Islam religion.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      No, the choice would be go back to prevent your birth or go back to prevent christianity

      April 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  13. jj

    There is extremism in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, unfortunately

    April 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • John Wesley

      But Islam is the only religion that says that the world shall be cleansed of infidels. I am sorry to say, that anyone who believes in the Koran, scares the heck out of me.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  14. Ares VS Set

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

    I don't believe in god but I don't believe everything science tells me either. That is the point of science you gather as much information and some later proves to be wrong but that's is ok that is what science is about whether we get positive or negative results it is all recorded and we learn from our mistakes. So although I think belief in super-being overlords is for fools, I also think every bit of information we get from the sciences should be examined harshly. A good example is how many times we have had to push back the date of human existence. But then since you may be a bible thumper humans only go back a few thousand years. Now that IS funny.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Lycidas

      You weren't alive when humans were created. Speaking in absolutes won't get you anywhere.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  15. John

    Now that, they are killing all innocent people- Should they still be called followers of 'PEACE' ???? OR do these $#@@## think people will follow their god or leader because they kill people???

    April 23, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Jews, Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
      As for violence to gain converts – it worked for Christian Crusaders, Conquistadores and Inquisitors – so why not?

      April 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  16. Alias

    Religion is not evil, but the way it is used can be.
    Belief in a god can inspire people to join together and justify all kinds of evil things.
    Or ask the author of a little red book in China, a philosophy can work just as well.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  17. kevobx

    The world is so dumb, stones represents people! Why does the world put headstones on graves? *Psalm 108:8 Judah is my lawgiver; (Luke 13:28)

    April 23, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      how is that relevant to the story, kev? are you just blathering out quotes?

      April 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  18. Ares VS Set

    "They will answer to God and His Son Jesus Christ."

    That is too friggin funny. First it's a load of boloney, fit only for fools and brainwashed children to believe and doesn't jesus advocate forgiveness and love thy enemy. So basically the walking doormat that was allegedly jesus would forgive them and welcome them to heaven. But don't worry this won't happen because all religions are for week minded obtuse people who need a super being overlord to tell them to be good.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  19. Napoleon Dynomite

    If they are worried about extreme Muslim viewpoints, just wait until the Christian extremists get fed up with the BS. I wouldn't want to be a Muslim living in a Christian world once they are fed up with the "infidel" statement crap! Reminds me of that yappy little annoying dog that bites at your leg, just kick it and it will leave you alone.

    April 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You might want to read up a little on the Crusades to find out how the "yappy dog" has handled Christian threats in the past.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Jmacq1

      Not to mention how many of them there are, especially once you subtract the Christians that would get killed when they apparently attempt this theological takeover of government and military.

      April 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  20. Atheistically Yours

    Islam (meaning "Submit") IS "extremism". It, and ALL its male adherents need to be vaporized off the planet as quickly as possible!

    April 23, 2013 at 4:15 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.