ISS perceives more migrants from Islamic risk states as a threat

Outtakes from the Nordic Muslim FB page in the ISS annual review.
Outtakes from the Nordic Muslim FB page in the ISS annual review. Source: ISS Annual Review 2022-2023

The Ministry of Internal Affairs handed 23 entry bans to persons who pose a security risk in terms of terrorism and Islamic influence activity following the Internal Security Service's (ISS) recommendations in 2022.

The number of people moving to Estonia from Islamic risk countries is growing. The figure has quadrupled in the last four years, and migration has bounced back after slowing during the coronavirus period.

"The growing Muslim community is inevitably linked to several other risk factors: increased contact with high-risk countries, the transfer of the origin countries' problems to Estonia and the increased likelihood of radicalization," the Estonian Internal Security Service's fresh yearbook reads.

The ISS said that people moving to Estonia need to be integrated quickly and the creation of closed communities avoided. It is important for integration programs not to overlook people coming from high-risk countries on the backdrop of the Ukraine refugee crisis.

ISS Director Arnold Sinisalu said that radical right-wing terrorism is up in Europe as a reaction to its Islamic counterpart.

"Both trends are worrying. To prevent terrorism in Estonia, we must consider all possible developments we've seen in other European countries. We are talking about 10-15 years down the line. But action must be taken today. I am first and foremost referring to the integration of people from countries with an Islamic majority and the second and third generations becoming part of our society in the broadest possible meaning," Sinisalu found.

The ISS has come across social media posts promoting antagonism between communities based on religious convictions in Estonia.

"The messages posted by these instigators echo those spread in Europe, very clearly suggesting, without directly calling for violence, that people of different faiths should not recognize each other's customs and encouraging Muslims to oppose the shared cultural practices in Estonia. Such appeals are aimed at
immigrants, directly impeding their integration and coping."

One example given in the yearbook concerns a 32-year-old Islamic preacher RR who regularly posts sermons and monologues on social media. Even though his messages do not incite violence, the ISS feels they are clearly urging Muslims to diverge from Estonian culture. The ISS has added outtakes from the Nordic Muslim Facebook page.

RR is a man from Vastseliina, Võru County who found the Islamic faith in 11th grade and has also been featured on the "Eesti lood" documentary series.

The ISS has also detected susceptibility to radicalization among Estonian youths and even minors. Mostly following social media influence.

"Most of those radicalized have adopted an Islamist worldview. Belonging to a specific group or organization is no longer a prerequisite. Topics such as blasphemy, Islamophobia and the clashing of liberalism with religious rules have
taken precedence over calls by terrorist organizations to join their ranks and fight for their cause. In Estonia and elsewhere in Europe, some individuals identified as posing a threat have also been diagnosed with mental disorders.

In summary, while the threat of terrorism remains low in Estonia, terrorist attacks cannot be completely ruled out. The ISS's data suggests no Estonian resident tried to join a terrorist organization or move to territories controlled by terrorists in 2022.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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