Eastern Europe, keep their traditions!

Восточная Европа, храни свои традиции!

Some time ago I was in the lobby of one hotel in Kazan, stressed the Russian style, under the name “Volga”. It was there I came across an article about a new ultra-nationalist movement of intellectuals in Germany. In truth, they did not impress me and did not seem particularly intelligent. A supposedly a supporter of this new sect, an aspiring historian, under the alias Michael talked about the influx of foreigners in Germany and the rapid Islamization of the country. He expressed concern about the fact that European elites are willing to replace the indigenous population of the country by Muslim immigrants. And that the German people had, without realizing it, is under threat of cultural annihilation. In conclusion, the author noted that it might make sense to move to Russia, they say, there’s some good old Western world still preserved.Reading this, I hardly kept from laughing, and only out of fear of causing dissatisfaction and contempt of the irascible hotel Manager.The self-proclaimed intellectuals of the German right wing cling to the belief that the age-old pastoral idyll of our continent continues serenely on the Eastern fringes of Europe in their net, you might say, virgin form. And Russia, respectively, actually represents the epitome of comely bucolic old world. She allegedly remains immune to the devastating effects of globalization, which in other places has destroyed all remnants of cultural identity and left behind a single, universal civilization. The cultural pessimism of similar nature can be found in the sentimental glorification of the Yugoslav Nobel prize winner Austrian Peter Handke.However, for any knowledgeable person it is obvious that this glorification of the East as homogenous culturally reflect the lost remains of Western Europe, based on fundamental ignorance and the ignorance of history.However, back in Kazan, one of the most beautiful cities of Russia, as if created for postcards. He stands proudly on the banks of the mighty Volga, however, encased in concrete human hands. The winters sometimes last up to five months. Outside the gates of the old city stretches a vast sleepy suburbs with their winding streets and battered houses. And above the old town stands on a hill a magnificent citadel, the Kazan Kremlin, which has been awarded the title of world cultural heritage of UNESCO, the international gold standard architectural mastery. The architectural complex of the Kazan Kremlin, in addition to the Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral and the former Governor’s Palace, stand proudly four minarets of the mosque Kul Sharif.Kazan is the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Tatarstan, part of the Russian Federation. And at the same time, Tatarstan is one of the northernmost centres of the Muslim world. Volga Tatars, who make up the majority of the population are Muslims of Turkic origin and were closely related to modern Turks. As the President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov, although it has greater freedom to maneuver, hardly anyone here wants to dissociate themselves from Russia. Russia and Tatarstan are too closely linked.Unlike Germany, Russia has never considered themselves a homogeneous national state, but rather a monarchy, an Empire and a great power. The ancestor of the great poet Alexander Pushkin was Ethiopian, Joseph Stalin, as is known, was a native of Georgia, and the great ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev came from a Muslim Tatar family.In the Volga city of Bulgarians (first Bulgarian), located about 200 kilometers South from Kazan, Turks, Slavs and Varangians (Vikings) were mixed in the early middle ages with the Finnish fur traders and merchants from Samarkand and Armenia. Close ties with the Arab world turned the city into a major shopping center. In its heyday of the Bulgars was one of the biggest cities in Europe.The intermixing of peoples and cultures across this vast Eurasian land bridge, the constant contact with other civilizations, especially Islam, has identified Russia with its inception as an independent state.Still in many places on the border between the great Russian steppe and endless forest you can find the remains of mausoleums and mosques.It is worth to mention that the old Russian Grand Prince Vladimir, according to legend, was ready to accept Islam and accept, if not for his addiction to wine. Anyway, he was baptized in 988, and the whole of Russia eventually became a Christian country.Despite all the talk about the “Tatar-Mongol yoke”, it is the good will of the Tatar Kazan Khanate has allowed Moscow, which was in the middle ages, his vassal, to defeat his great rival the free city of Novgorod. From that moment Moscow has achieved supremacy over all his brethren from the Russian-Slavic principalities. And it was the conquest by Ivan the Terrible of Kazan in 1552, caused a wave of Russian expansion in Siberia and Central Asia, which marked the ascension of Russia to the rank of a great power.Unlike the conquest of Grenada Christians seventy years earlier, Ivan the terrible did not expel the Muslims from Kazan. Those who persisted in allegiance to Islam, was no longer permitted to live within the citadel, and the mosque there was destroyed to the ground. However, the population of Tatarstan remained predominantly Muslim in all ages the Russian government.During the reign of Empress Catherine II, in the suburbs of Kazan again appeared first mosque, opened with the personal approval of the Queen. The marcani mosque, built in 1770, has been preserved to our days. If not for the minaret, it at first glance could easily be mistaken for a Palace in the Baroque style.As the Russians have extended the boundaries of his state to the East, towards Central Asia and South Caucasus, the role and influence of Islam in Russia continued to grow. Someone may think that questions concerning the compatibility of Islam and democracy, the celebration of Ramadan in the far North or appeals to feminist interpretation of Islam, emerged only in the late twentieth century. However, researchers of Islam in tsarist Russia, such as Ismail gasprinski and his followers, the reformers of the enlightenment movement “Jadid”, was faced with these questions over a hundred years ago (their solution: turkishly, Islamization, Europeanization). They left an intellectual legacy that deserves much more attention in Western Europe.Tatars played an important role in the siege of Vienna by the army of the Ottoman Empire in 1683. Right wing ideologues think the victory over the Ottomans, the Polish army under the command of king Jan III Sobieski at Vienna a manifestation of the irreconcilable opposition between Christianity and the world of Islam. For example, right-wing Norwegian terrorist Andres Breivik has referred to this battle is quite confusing in his Manifesto “2083 — a European Declaration of independence”. Only here he did not mention that the so-called Lipsky Tatars, Muslims, the Polish-Lithuanian cousins of the Volga Tatars, fought in that battle on the side of the Polish army. Polish Tatar Colonel Samuel Murza Krzeczowski even saved the life of Jan Sobieski in battle.On the other hand, transylvani, Moldavians, Vlachs, and especially the Janissaries, the Serbian, Bulgarian and Greek origin fought together with the Ottoman Sultan. However, that’s another story.It now appears among the authors claim to exceptional intelligence, everywhere in fashion the idea that you need to conduct a new political dividing line, to emphasize the contrast and even the incompatibility between the two rival groups. On the one hand, globalized elite, who above all else put the economy – or rather, the money, and on the other the traditionalists who bow before the altar of cultural identity.This increased concern about separating their borders, once and obviously not the last time reflected in the decision of the Nobel Committee to award the prize for literature to the Austrian writer Peter Handke and the Polish poet Olga Tokarchuk. They are both completely different approach to this difficult subject. If Tokarchuk combines the attachment to the roots and cosmopolitanism, that Handke is one of those who tend to immerse themselves in worlds of poetic dreams.However, although I would not like to provide Handke disservice, he is in his sentimental romanticism is the poet idealized the history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, like Russia, is a multinational country. And therefore, it need not be counted among the supporters of the ahistorical and nationalist beliefs, the proponent of which is the previously mentioned “Michael”.However, the view of the European debate from Tatarstan allows you to see what is often a fictional contrast between globalised commercial culture and authentic local culture shows merely a lack of foresight.After Moscow, the Republic of Tatarstan is the most prosperous part of the Russian Federation. It is rich in oil and is a completely globalized region. Local mineral resources and a transnational industry is constantly add to the coffers of the government. And Tatarstan has a special cultural independence. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union throughout the country has opened more than 1,000 mosques. Tatarskoyazychnoe music scene is thriving, as indeed poetry, and numerous language courses. The recently renovated building of the world Congress of Tatars is a somewhat eclectic combination of cutting edge start-up center and shining respectable clinic. Perhaps the Russians and lose from globalization, but of Tatarstan clearly benefits from it.A view from Kazan convincingly testifies to this. The problem of the self-proclaimed new right intelligentsia of Germany is that they lack just that, in the absence of which they are so fond of blaming their political opponents – namely, knowledge and understanding of history.

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