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This is a study of current political and cultural trends in the North Caucasus Republic of Adygea.

Abstract

As of 2007, there are few signs that the Muslim community of the Adygea Republic embraces the radical Islamic tendencies seen in other parts of the North Caucasus. There is no reason to suppose that the socio-political situation in the republic is being aggravated by the Islamic revival in places such as Chechnya.

Yet, there are trends that threaten to change this. The influx of Middle Eastern men, especially Muslim clerics, who visit the region on a regular basis, is a source of popular unease. Given the fact many Muslims in Adygea distrust the local clergy, the Middle Eastern missionaries working in the republic may eventually enlist support for radical Islam.

The Adygh people are more likely to define themselves in terms of ethnicity than in terms of their religious affiliations. This factor mitigates possible tensions emerging from appeals by radical outsiders hoping to exploit the distrust of local clergy.

The rigid social, economic, and political divisions between the Muslim and the Russian communities offer potential for future sectarian disruptions. The Nalchik violence of 2005 also led to police actions that local Muslims interpreted as persecution.

Finally, although the proposal was dropped in March, 2006, the debate over a possible merger with Krasnodar sharpened differences between these groups. The threatened resignation of Adygea President Khasret Sovmen, who opposed the merger, is a factor in Islamic perceptions that they are being persecuted.

On balance, Adygea represents a peaceful contrast with other republics in the North Caucasus. Separatism is not a factor and there is a general recognition that without membership in the Russian Federation Adygea wouldn’t be able to survive.

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