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Russia’s exploding Muslim population

Ready for Russia’s very own Oriana Fallacis and Jean LePens? If population trends continue at the current rate, Muslims could outnumber ethnic Russians in 30 years, al-Jazeera reports. More Russians are dying each year than being born, due in large measure to the popularity of abortion (Russian women had almost 13 abortions for every 10 ...

Ready for Russia’s very own Oriana Fallacis and Jean LePens? If population trends continue at the current rate, Muslims could outnumber ethnic Russians in 30 years, al-Jazeera reports. More Russians are dying each year than being born, due in large measure to the popularity of abortion (Russian women had almost 13 abortions for every 10 live births in 2003), alcohol, and suicide.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Muslim population has grown by 40 percent since 1989, the result of a high birth rate and continued immigration from the North Caucasus and Central Asia. There are now 25 million Muslims in Russia, and they are projected to become one-fifth of the country’s overall population by 2020. Predictably, the usual suspects are speaking up:

Many ethnic Russians are terrified at the prospect of becoming a minority in their own country. Alexander Belov, from the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, said: “History is a fight between races and religions. “It’s the law of nature … people are used to being with people like themselves, speaking the language their mothers taught them.”

We’ve recently seen domestic politics polarized by nativist hysteria in France, Denmark, the Netherlands, and elsewhere in Western Europe. But at least this is occurring within democratic systems with moderate political parties and strong protections for minority rights, where the extreme right can only do so much damage. It won’t be that way in increasingly autocratic Russia, however, where there aren’t established moderating forces in civil society. Throw into the mix anger about the ongoing Muslim insurgency in Chechnya and smoldering ressentiment about the demise of the Soviet Union, and you have a potent recipe for an ugly nationalist movement—or something worse.

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