Security police: Estonia's Muslim community is peaceful, integrated

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The Estonian Muslim community is, on the whole, peaceful, homogenous and properly integrated into the Estonian society, the national security police said in its annual review for 2012.

Speaking before reporters on Friday, director general of the security police Raivo Aeg said no trends toward fundamentalism could be observed in the Muslim community of Estonia.

The annual review points out that the number of members of the Muslim community of Estonia who were not born Muslim but have either converted or immigrated into Estonia lately is slowly growing. "Converts and new immigrants tend to follow Muslim practices more strictly and are more receptive to fundamentalism, including Salafist Islam. Thus the possibility that the local Muslim community could split into separate competing factions in the future cannot be ruled out," it stands in the annual review.

Should the Muslim community split, the emergence of new centers of Muslim activity elsewhere in Estonia besides Tallinn cannot be discounted.

The Estonian Muslim community obtains most of its information on the web. "The vast amount of information and sources on the web have also led to a widespread distribution of false information. One can find misinterpretations of Islam as well as websites created in other countries promoting extremist and violent Islam. Estonian Muslims are becoming increasingly aware of these websites," the security police said, adding that in the long term this could lead to a wider spread of violent Islamist propaganda and radicalism.

The international organizations Jamaat Tabligh, Awqaf General Trust, Al-Waqf Al-Islam, Muslim World League and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, mentioned in the previous annual reviews of the security police, continue to have contacts with Estonian Muslims.

As a result of increased illegal immigration into Europe members of extremist Islamic organizations and their supporters may also find their way to Estonia, the security police said. At the same time, attempts to enter the Schengen territory via Estonia are made through the abuse of legal opportunities and, for example, by concluding fictitious marriages, abusing the visa system or faking property transactions.

With the economy recovering, the number of Estonian citizens traveling to crisis areas or countries with unstable leaderships in North Africa and the Middle East is increasing and the risk of being taken hostage has inevitably grown as a result, the security police warned.