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EU Condemns Attack On Mari Activist

(RFE/RL) BRUSSELS, March 15, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The European Parliament, sitting in Strasbourg, today discussed an attack earlier this year on Galina Kozlova, an indigenous-peoples rights activist in Russia's Marii El Republic.

EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes, representing the EU executive, condemned the attack.

"The commission regrets the violent attack on Galina Kozlova, which took place on January 25 in the capital of Mari republic, and I express my sympathy to her, to her family, and my best wishes for a speedy recovery from her injuries," Kroes said.

Kroes called for a "through and speedy" investigation and said the situation in Marii El will be raised during the next EU-Russia human rights dialogue on May 3.

The European Parliament is expected later today to adopt a resolution, backed by all major political groups, condemning the continued violence against cultural figures and journalists in Marii El.

During the debate, representatives of the three largest groups -- the conservatives, socialists, and liberals -- all attacked Russia's record on minority rights and media freedom and asked the EU to raise the issues at the upcoming EU-Russia summit.

Russia's Changing Face

Russia's Changing Face
A mosque in Baksan, in the Russian Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria (RFE/RL)

THE COMING MUSLIM MAJORITY: On February 28, Russia expert PAUL GOBLE, vice dean of social sciences and humanities at Concordia-Audentes University in Tallinn, Estonia, gave a briefing at RFE/RL's Washington office. Goble said ethographers predict Russia will have a Muslim majority "within our lifetime." Since 1989, Russia's Muslim population has increased by 40 percent, Goble said, rising to some 25 million self-declared Muslims. He said 2.5 million to 3.5 million Muslims now live in Moscow, gving Moscow the largest Muslim population of any city in Europe. Russia today has more than 8,000 mosques, up from just 300 in 1991. By 2010, experts predict, some 40 percent of Russian military conscripts will be Muslims.
Goble noted that these changes have been accompanied by a "rising tide" of anti-Muslim prejudice. Public-opinion surveys reveal that up to "70 percent of ethnic Russians" express sympathy with xenophobic slogans. Goble warned that heavy-handed state efforts to "contain Islam" could backfire and cause groups to move underground, "radicalizing people who are not yet radicalized."


Listen to the entire briefing (about 85 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media

See also:

Muslims Oppose Bill To Add Chaplains To Army

Russia: Muslims Upset By State Symbols

Russia's Muslims Move Toward Greater Unity

Rights Groups Say Muslims Are Unfairly Targeted In Fight Against Terrorism

Fact Box: Muslims In Russia

THE COMPLETE PICTURE: To view an archive of all of RFE/RL's coverage of Russia's North Caucasus, click here.

A thematic webpage devoted to issues of religious tolerance in RFE/RL's broadcast region and around the globe.