Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday urged government bodies to "give the widest support to Islam" in Russia in order to win what he calls "an ideological battle against radical" Islamists. Speaking at a meeting in the volatile North Caucasus in Russia, he said: "We must educate (people) and give the widest support to Islam" in Russia, he said at the meeting in Vladikavkaz (southeast), devoted to counterterrorism measures. The meeting was attended by the heads of special services and security agencies, a number of federal ministers, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoys to the Federal Districts, regional governors of the North Caucasus Federal District and the heads of the region’s law enforcement agencies. Emphasizing Islam's position as part of Russian society, he said:
For centuries, Islam has developed in Russia as one of our traditional religions, but the injections of extremism and radical movements have appeared only recently and they are extremely dangerous. It is not for state officials to deal with this or, in any case, not only for state officials. This, above all, is a job for the clergy, because this problem exists throughout the Muslim world. Muslim clerics, imams and muftis often behave like heroes. Yesterday I presented state awards to relatives of the clerics who had been killed. Their lives are an example of service to the Motherland, the Russian Federation, and an example of service to their faith, to Islam. They are the true martyrs for their faith, and not those bastards who blow up children.
He also emphasised the importance of economic development in the Northern Caucasus, saying: "Only the creation of new jobs can bring hope to young people, who have no jobs and who are first recruited and then brainwashed by the extremists. The fight against unemployment, job creation, educational programmes, tours of cultural institutions in the North Caucasus, tours of various performance artists – all of this is very important. People who live in the North Caucasus live in Russia and must feel like its full-fledged citizens."
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