On 25 March at 16:15 Ege Lepa will defend her doctoral thesis („The Dynamics of Estonian Islamic Community since the Restoration of Independence“).
prof Tarmo Kulmar, University of Tartu
dr Ringo Ringvee, Ministry of the Interior, Religious Affairs Department
prof Mikko Lagerspetz, Åbo Akademi
Based on 45 semi-structured interviews, documents from national archive and some years of close activity observation mainly conducted at Islamic Centre at Keevise 9, Tallinn, the thesis „The Dynamics of Estonian Islamic Community since the Restoration of Independence“ focuses on internal relations of Estonian Islamic community, where long domination of Tatar way of “moderate”, secular type of practice is challenged by several waves of newcomers. During last three decades complex developments have occurred; changes in political and economical system in Estonia in addition to EU membership since 2004 have altered the balance and relations between now many Islamic nationalities, have a noteworthy impact to religious practices and ways to organize administrative and religious activities, which has raised some essential questions about authority inside Estonian Islamic community. Some observations are made about influence of historical (Soviet) background to current developments, the main focus is on the different narratives of the „Tatar“, the „Estonian“ and the „Arab“ religious identity and on the ways time and again changing community deals with newcomers, also how those adapt to local network of Islamic organizations and system of sacral, financial and administrative power. Three main groups of community – the „Tatars“ (Russian-speaking Islamic nations from former Soviet Union), the „Estonians“ (local converts) and the „Arabs“ (newcomers from North-Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc) – develop on personal level unique, but on nation´s level time and again repeating narratives of different understanding what Islam is and how God should be worshipped today and here in Estonia.