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. JMEF

    Isn't JC supposed to return for a big encore? Was that not part of Paul's shtick the return of the messiah? It has been 2000 years and no return gig, where he/it was supposed to beam up all the true believers and leave the wretched remainder to suffer eternal torment. I'm waiting.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • EFM

      and you will keep waiting, you will not be beamed up to hevan, loser

      April 23, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      EMF. Noone will be beamed up to heaven. Get used to it. Loser

      April 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Is it not written in the book of Revelations that there will come a man of God who this world knows not much of yet said man will be the cornerstone for God judging all human Life?

      April 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  2. EFM

    At one time the mooslims empire reached all the way into Spain, then the cristians pounded their a$$e$ back into the sand.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Big Shiz

      How Christian of you, Jesus would be proud.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • patriot

      non-whites are conquering Europe and America with immigration.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Suq Madiq

      "non-whites are conquering Europe and America with immigration." you mean some humans are migrating from one place on the planet to another in search of safer neighborhoods and mild climates and many have differing skin colors and would not be considered "white" which of course has no bearing what so ever on a humans value.

      April 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  3. Andrea

    the world would be a lot safer and happier if we ditched religion all together. Someone will always have a god that says persecute non believers and so on, probably till we wipe each other out. Something to think about, how many wars happened in the name of god?

    April 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • lol??

      First things first. How many classes did you ditch and did you go to Harvard? Transcripts, please.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Jack

      What a grand, sweeping over-statement. You mean YOU (and people of no faith, which are the minority) would be a lot happier. The overwhelming majority of people in the world have a religious faith of some kind and are very happy with it.

      As for "safer," that's another sweeping generalization that implies people of no faith are nothing but sweet little angels. Safety has to do with individuals, not groups of people. Not every person of any one faith (or non-faith) is violent towards others.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Andrea................There's no need to "ditch" religion. Polls show less people identify themselves to a particular religion. Soon enough religion will hopefully go the way of the doo doo bird. We can hasten religion's demise by simply not giving money to the church. In NY catholic schools are closing by the bunches, hopefully the churches will follow.

      April 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      @ Ken

      The Catholic Church is phenomenally wealthy.... They will do a lot more damage before they fade away.
      The Mormons are snapping up every business magnate they can con. ...same deal...
      The evangelicals will continue to con those who can least afford it...further exasperating a bad situation. Just because somebody is gullible doesn't mean they should be exploited.

      No... we need to put as much info out there as fast as possible – we do need to ditch religion as fast as we can.

      April 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @R.M. ..............................The church is run like any other conglomerate. I the money doesn't "trickle" down for them either. I know the Vatican isn't going anywhere soon, but like all conglomerates they're built from the bottom up. We've got to stop feeding the beast when they pass the plate. That's where they'll lose all their influence politically as well.

      April 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  4. Bring Sense

    Doc Vestibule@ you think they are same but they are NOT, God and their god are not the same. Just shows your ignorance on this subject.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Matt

      Well, from MY perspective (that of a logical thinker), your god their gods are equally absurd. I think people should be allowed to believe what they want to believe, but I also think that those who believe in gods should be ridiculed publicly!.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Jack

      @Matt: So, your definition of "logic" is actually what Webster's Dictionary describes as intolerance and what society calls hate speech. You contradict yourself, hypocrite.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • lol??

      matt, you're upside down on the judgment thing.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  5. 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:

    HEADLINE: 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.

    (continued at link below)


    April 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm |

    Animal worship, way of life of hindu seculars, ignorant self centered.


    April 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm |

      meet my father

      April 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • oOo


      April 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  7. EFM

    The mooslim wants this to continue, it keeps their religion in the news.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  8. Jack

    Comments like your's are also indicative of an extremist. Hi Pot. This is the Kettle. You're black.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  9. Sunny

    @bill Look , look at history of india. Will now whether they attacked anyone

    April 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  10. Mary

    Glad to see their acknowledgement and concerns of this fact. the only way you can stop it is if you admit its there, then do something about it. I hope that they can and will before its gets worse, we have seen how that plays out.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  11. Jack

    Wait. Muslims are just NOW worried about extremists? Statistically, they have every reason to be and should be understanding of others who fear/hate Islam because of all they do. Not all muslims are extremists but most terrorists ARE muslim. Muslims are very, very far behind in their public relations with the world's citizens. Where are the news reports of non-extremists coming out against the violence, hatred and murderous extremists? Where is THEIR outrage over events like this?

    April 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  12. Syd Chaden

    The root cause of Islamic terrorism throughout the world is the Islamic doctrine of death to infidels. Muslims take the doctrine very seriously. The two major branches of Islam, the Sunnis and the Shiites, each consider the other to be infidels, and they have been killing each other for centuries for that reason. The frequent Fatwas issued by Muslim clerics calling for death to Christians and death to Jews make it clear that Christians and Jews are considered to fall within the definition of infidels. Western leaders, and in particular, US Presidents, fantasize that the doctrine does not exist, and that Islam is "the religion of love". Islamic terrorism is deemed to be "the work of a tiny minority". That tiny minority is killing both Muslims and non-Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Mali, Libya, Sudan, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria, to name just a few of the affected countries, and, of course, in the USA. The reason is the doctrine of death to infidels. Islam calls on its followers to carry out the doctrine. If these statements are not correct, then there should be no problem in getting the Muslim World to renounce the doctrine, or to declare it invalid. Of course, it would be politically incorrect to do that, and so, nothing will change.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Suq Madiq

      The root cause of Islamic terrorism throughout the world is that many Muslims take their books doctrine very seriously. The root cause of Christian pacifism throughout the world is that many Christians do not take their books doctrine very seriously.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  13. Dan

    If they are so concerned they should turn the extremists in and not ignore or make excuses for("Look what the US is doing to Muslims") them. If I had knowledge of a Christian( and I am a Christian) who was going to bomb a group of civilians I would immediately call the proper authorities without a second thought. This is the difference in thinking between the two relligions. When was the last time a Muslim stopped a bomber by calling in? The extremists will continue to be an influence until the majority of Muslims stop tolerating them!!!!

    April 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  14. kevobx

    If Christ was crucified on a cross, why did white men burn crosses in the civil rights movement? Christ was slewed and hanged on a tree, just like the black men after him (Galatians 3:13)

    April 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  15. Richard Right

    In Kyrgistan 32% feel extremism is a problem, that means 68% don't think extremism is a problem. Even a 10% in favor of extremism would be very bad.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  16. Dagestan: Almost as Backwards and Supersti.tious as the Bible Belt

    True story!

    April 23, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Mike

      please include in your defination: any street, city, county, state, country that ends with STAN

      April 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  17. R.M. Goodswell

    baby steps ...we need to be happy with baby steps....maybe – just maybe we ll be able to take bigger ones soon and throw off this madness.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  18. Dennis

    Muslims are involved in attacks against non-Muslims all around the world..They never stop..

    April 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • bil

      hmm, when did it start?? islam has been around for 1400 years, are all the history books filled with 1400 years of violence and bloodshed??

      maybe you should do some homework on the issue and the people before trying to make a comment.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Dennis

      bil,please try reading about current events before you comment.Check with: thereligionofpeace.com

      April 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Mary

      "Bil" Sorry but they are always throwing up the crusades, but what started the crusades? The Ottoman/Caliphate periods which conquered massive amounts of land, and in some of those era's people had to convert to Islam or flee or be killed. In others, if they didnt convert, they had to pay jitzah taxes. Those ARAB Islamic conquests took land from all other faiths and they exist on them in the Middle East and in Asia to this day. Persia was conquered, Zoroastrians and people from other faiths were forced into Islam. And violence in Islam from some Muslims has existed until today. that doesnt mean the entire world blames all Muslims, of course not. Those extremist elements hurt Muslims as well. Ahmadi Muslims are peaceful, yet other Muslims dont see them as Muslims because of some belief differences. The Wahhabbi/Salafist (Sunni) sects are more fundamentalist and pro sharia and have a world view for Political Islam. Some of the nicest people I know are good Muslim people. But i also believe that extremist Islam is one of the biggest problems in the world today, even in Russia and China. And innocent Muslims are hurt in the crossfire. Instead of them blaming the others, I think if they all came out against Islamic extremism and extreme political fundamental Islam as a majority of people, they are the best tool to stopping them, but they also live in fear of their retaliation, especially being a Muslim. I hope we can all show them that we can differentiate between a good person and a bad, and dont blame all of them for a few of their radical ones with religious intentions. If we could reach out to our own population of muslims and reassure them or offer a freiendship so they dont feel isolated. Some people in general are outgoing, others are not, and many people in our population feel alone and isolated and because of their reserved manner, may not feel included in society, especially if you are a minority. America used to be so neighborly, out and about with each other in the neighborhood, now we are so busy with life. We need to slow down a bit and relax and get to know each other again as a community. thats how I feel anyway. I try to reach out to everyone, and am trying to be more social and help my community via volunteering, less confined to my home and work, and doing more simple pleasures with family and friends, thats real living for me.

      April 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  19. bil

    haha, this was loads of fun, i saw this one except someone put in the effects from street fighter and it was craaaaazy!!!

    but i guess for the record i must say this is islam and these aren't muslim. its like saying every white, blonde hair blue eye arian is a nazi.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  20. colin in Florida

    If they are truly worried, then they should do something about it. Then they could quit worrying.

    April 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • bil

      they'll do as much about this as you will do as much about adam lanza or timothy mcveigh's heck even illegal immigrants.

      maybe when you get all these things under control then muslims might make some progress

      April 23, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
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.