April 2012 Newsletter on the Tatar project

The Tatar project is a very special one, for the Tatars are the second largest ethnic group of the Russian Federation after the Russians. This is no wonder, for the histories of the two peoples are deeply intertwined and in the course of the centuries the two cultures have interpenetrated each other profoundly. The Mongol-Tatar invasion of Rus’ in 1237 and their subsequent domination of it (the so called Yoke, which lasted till 1480) was a great blow to this young Slavic Christian culture and changed the course of Russian history for ever. The Mongol-Tatars of that period were pagan tribes of different origins and thus they assimilated the customs and traditions of conquered peoples rather easily, but in 1262 the Golden Horde announced its adoption of Islam...

A large number from the Tatar diaspora were assembled at the House of Nationalities in Moscow for the public release of the first New Testament in the Tatar language. Earlier a similar presentation had successfully taken place in the Tatar capital, Kazan, and now we wanted to repeat the event for the Tatars living in Moscow. However, this time several ardent Muslims were in the audience and started to violently question the new book. The atmosphere became tense and hostile, and finally one person said in a loud voice: “It would be my duty to do away with any Tatar who abandoned the Muslim faith!” How would we find a way out of this difficult situation?...