Reader Paul sent me this interesting item on the decline in belief among Muslims in Russia.

This latest research deals a severe blow to plans by Russian Muslim leaders to wrench concessions from the Kremlin. These Muslim leaders are pushing for the creation of a new high-ranking position in the government just for so-called `Muslim Affairs’, and they are also trying to have Islamic law officially accepted in those areas of the country where ethnic Muslims dominate.
So-called `ethnic’ Muslims — people traditionally seen as Muslims, such as Tatars, Bashkirs, Chechens, and Ingush — account for about 15 percent of the total Russian population, or 20 million people. The fact that only 6 percent of the total Russian population, about 9 million people, claimed to be Muslim means that more than half of `ethnic’ Muslims have abandoned the Mohammedan cult practiced by their forefathers.
This is also a very good example whereby Muslim leaders deny any freedom of choice to `their’ peoeple. They claim as their own anyone born into an ethnic group that is perceived to be `Muslim’, and under no circumstance will they let go of these people. According to Muslim leaders: once a Muslim, always a Muslim. Islam is all about violence, coercion and the absence of freedom.
The VTsIOM poll is very encouraging news. True, more and more mosques are opening in Russia, but not many people are attending them. Indeed, many Tatars and Bashkirs have become Orthodox Christian; or simply do not have any religious affiliation. Islam in Russia, however, remains most virulent in the North Caucasus among the Chechens and Inghush, whose inclination toward violence and terrorism is well-known.

This is very encouraging news if true. It may be that our real hope in this war is not the “moderate” muslim but the former muslim.
What we need now is a survey team to go in and find out how this happened. Is it a local phenomenon or can it be replicated?
Clayton Cramer thinks that Islam may have been a proxy for nationalism in those regions. With the Soviets gone no need for nationalism as a resistance movement, thus the decline of Islam. Certainly a testable thesis. If it is true it means that it is of limited application because our current problem is with transnational Islam.
Cross Posted at Power and Control