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Russia & the CIS - Miscellaneous - Surveys

2 million ethnic Muslims adopted baptism in Russia while only 2,5 thousand Russians converted to Islam - expert
("Interfax," November 1, 2005)

Moscow, Russia - The number of ethnic Muslims in Russia who adopted Christianity is 2 million, while the number of the Orthodox who have been converted to Islam is only 2,5 thousand, stated Roman Silantyev, executive secretary of the Inter-religious Council in Russia.

‘Christianization happens not so much as a result of some purposeful missionary activity (in which only Protestants are engaged) as under the influence of Russian culture which has express Christian roots’, Silantyev said in a interview published this week by the Itogi weekly.

According Silantyev, the converts are predominantly Muslims by birth, while ‘those who really confess Islamic values and attend mosque on a regular basis rarely change their faith’.

‘The assimilation of ethnic and religious minorities is an inevitable process in any society. In Russia it is accelerated due to extremist activities’, the Islamic researcher believes.

For instance, he says, as a result of what happened in Beslan, the proportion of Muslims in North Ossetia has decreased at least by 30%, while in Beslan itself, where Muslims had comprised from 30 to 40% of the population, their number has decreased at least by half.

‘As even Muslim sources confirm, after each terrorist action, thousands and may be even dozens of thousands of ethnic Muslims adopt baptism’, Silantyev stated.

At the same time, the expert accounts for the small number of ethnic Orthodox people who have adopted Islam for the last 15 years, among other things, by the fact that ‘for some reason Russians seem to be more willing to join sects than Islam’.