Central Asia Program Series CERIA Briefs Publications

The role of Islam in the lives of Central Asian migrants in Moscow

CERIA Brief No. 2, October 2014

By Sophie Roche

Moscow, with two million Muslim residents and up to two million more migrant workers, has only four mosques, and the municipal authorities have repeatedly dismissed all efforts to build more, despite an urgent need. Many young men become practicing Muslims during their stay in Russia. In Rus-sia’s bazaars Islam becomes an important means of organizing life, as well as se-curing hygiene and moral behavior. It is also through Islam that young Tajik men turn humiliating working experiences into positive values by becoming religious practitioners. Mosques are increasingly used and understood as central places for social, educa-tional and political activities. After the prayer, numerous groups form around activists who try to raise awareness on different issues, especially those related to migration and politics in the Muslim world, which are discussed and openly de-bated.

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