Policy Memos

Why Young People Turn to Islam in the North Caucasus

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Next to the apartment building I live in, there is a mosque. Ten years ago, when it was still under construction, I walked past it with a good friend of mine, a 70-year-old man who used to work as a principal and was much respected in our little town of Nartkala. “I am going to devote myself to Islam and come to pray in this beautiful mosque as soon as it is finished,” he solemnly told me. The construction of the mosque has long since been completed, and my friend is in his eighties now. But he never fulfilled his solemn promise, nor did many other old men in Nartkala. As I watch the mosque sometimes from my window, I notice that mostly young people come to pray here. Many others are asking themselves the same question now: why exactly did we expect that elders would turn to Islam after the demise of Soviet ideology, and not the youth, as it turned out? [...]

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About the author

Associate Research Professor
George Washington University