Muslim extremists are taking advantage of the still unresolved Palestinian issue and using it as a recruitment tool, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Italian media on Wednesday, TASS reported. “According to our evaluations as well as those of many experts, the Palestinian issue, which remains unresolved for more than 60 years, is probably the most prominent element used by extremists for recruiting new followers among the Arab youth and on the Arab streets, telling them there is no justice in the world,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov recalled that “it was promised in late 1940s to establish two countries, however, the Palestinian state has not been established as of yet.” Russia’s top diplomat omitted the entire part about the Arabs voting against a Palestinian state in two thirds of the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and after the Jewish part had been declared a state invading from several directions in order to destroy it.
“We do realize that the problem can be resolved only after all countries in the region, including Israel, would be guaranteed security, but practical steps need to be taken as well,” Lavrov said, according to TASS. “There is already more than one young generation who are instructed and taught in the spirit of extremism, and with the Palestinian example they are told there is no justice in the world, that Arabs will never achieve [justice] and that all attempts of peace negotiations, including Oslo, Madrid, Annapolis and various ‘quartets,’ have led to nothing, therefore the only way to defend the Arabs’ own interests is through the armed fight.”
“Such brainwashing is in effect and it is very hard to fight against it,” Lavrov said, adding he hoped that the United States would help resolve the issue.
Islam is the second most widely practiced religion in Russia, and it is considered one of Russia’s indigenous faiths, legally a part of Russian historical heritage. According to a 2007 poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 6% of respondents considered themselves Muslims. But according to a 2011 Reuters report, Muslim minorities make up 14% of Russia’s population. Russian Muslims include ethnic groups in the North Caucasus, from the Black to the Caspian Sea: Circassians, Balkars, Chechens, Ingush, Kabardin, Karachay, and Dagestani. The middle of the Volga Basin is home to Tatars and Bashkirs, the vast majority of whom are Muslims.
Russia’s overall population, as of 2013, is estimated at 144 million, making the number of Russian Muslims roughly 20 million.