The threat of Islamic radicalism is growing in Belarus, as the number of Muslim students is growing in the country along with the radical propaganda. Zhan Chubukou, a Belarusian political analyst, made such a statement to EADaily on March 23, when commenting on media reports claiming that Belarus citizens were involved in the terror attacks in Brussels.
“The number of foreign students keeps growing in Belarus. During the last three years, their number has increased from 12,000 to 14,600. Most of the foreign students are not from Russia. Only 1.6 thousand of total 14.6 thousand foreign students are Russians. It is less than 10% of total. The number of the students who are Russian citizens is decreasing - 1.7 thousand of total 12 thousand foreign students in 2012, 1.6 thousand of total 14.7 thousand in 2016. Turkmens account for 8.2 thousand of total foreign students. Turkmenistan is a Central Asian Islamic country governed by clans. Foreign students represent 11 countries, of which only 3 are not Islamic – China (0.7 thousand students), Russia (1.6 thousand), and Ukraine (0.3 thousand). Actually, only 2.6 thousand of total 14.6 thousand foreign students are not from Islamic countries,” Chubokou said.
The only admission procedure for foreigners at high schools in Belarus, he said, is interview. “By Belarusian standards, more than 80% of foreigners are not able to study at university, as they know neither English nor Russian at the required level. Yet, all are admitted, as they pay in foreign currency. Meantime, the poor Ministry of Education has to meet specific requirements on export of education services,” Chubukou said.
In his words, “a conglomerate of young people from the Islamic states that are directly or indirectly involved in conflicts gives birth to relevant thoughts and communities.”
“I have personally come across a situation when foreign students gathered in a lecture hall locking the door from inside to offer Namaz interrupting the lessons. There were many cases of stabbing when foreigners from enclaves behaved themselves in Belarus the way they used to at home. I had students who studied to be doctors, and during summer holidays they posted in social media their photos from Syria where they pose in military uniform of the Free Syrian Army near bodies of “Kafirs.” Then they were back to study the following education year,” the analyst said.
As for social media, Zhan Chubukou said that a 1.5 year ago, Islamists covered #minsk hashtag with Wahhabi propaganda. Chubukou said they came across it when testing the updated API of Twitter together with associates. “We informed relevant agencies of the situation, but the response came in six months and was too feeble,” he said.
Chubukou said that in the Islamic enclaves there are unofficial pray rooms managed by immigrants from Qatar. “The relations of Belarusian profiteers with Qatar sheikhs are good, as the authorities close their eyes on what is happening in the country. The views propagated to visitors of these pray rooms are very radical and politically-motivated,” Chubukou said for conclusion.
As EADaily reported earlier, several media reported that citizens of Belarus, brothers Ivan and Aleksey Dovbash who live in Europe and converted to Islam, might be behind the Brussels blasts. The brothers do not refuse to talk to media and security forces, but they deny their involvement in the terror attacks. Today, on March 23, Belgian security services said they have identified some suicide bombers. Two of them have been named as brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui. Another suspect Najim Laachraoui was arrested later in the day.