Why has Mongolia not had any problems with political violence by Muslims?


The USA, Canada, Britain, France, Australia, Russia have all had Islamist terrorist attacks on their own soil. Many of these countries have also had people joining Islamist groups overseas such as the Taliban and ISIS.

Japan's terrorist attacks have largely been by non-Muslims, but Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of "The Satanic Verses" was murdered (although the perpetrator and motive isn't publicly known), and ISIS announced this year the killing of two Japanese hostages, claiming that they were in response to Japan's foreign policy. (I'm rather suspicious that they had already been murdered by ISIS prior to any announcements)

I haven't heard about any problems with political violence by Muslims in Mongolia. When searching about terrorism in Mongolia, the only information I found was an incident of eco-terrorism, plus news related to inner Mongolia in China.

One idea favoured by some on how to prevent political violence by Muslims is not to allow Muslims into a country, such as in the blog post ISLAMIC TERRORISM: WHY THERE IS NONE IN JAPAN. However, this isn't the case with Mongolia. About 3% of Mongolia is Muslim, mainly Kazakhs in the part of the country close to Kazakhstan.

Another idea on how to avoid political violence by Muslims is not to be involved militarily in Muslim countries. But while Mongolia has tried to play a neutral foreign policy, it has been involved in peace-keeping in Muslim countries, such as Iraq.

Has Mongolia been doing something right that other countries haven't done, and if so, what is it?

Andrew Grimm

Posted 2015-11-14T02:30:51.373

Reputation: 12 460

9For the native population, it sounds like you are trying to prove a negative. For foreign orchestrated attacks, Mongolia probably is a low low low priority target because of lower media impact from attacks that in more advanced countries, no colonial history and no political influence in international politics. Sending terrorists there would be a complete waste of manpower and resources. – SJuan76 – 2015-11-14T11:09:56.270

1You possibly missed Thailand, Kenya, Nigeria, China... All of them also had islamist attacks – Anixx – 2015-11-14T12:52:16.300

5I don't get the point of this question. We could ask the same question for about a hundred of countries that doesn't get musilm attack, with or without a muslim population. Why Mongolia in particular ? The states which are less populated and/or less proefficient economically are less of a symbol and are unlikely to be picked as a target for attackers. – Bregalad – 2015-11-14T16:13:02.860

6If you want to escape from ISIS terror. your best bet are places like Mongolia, Greenland, Svalbard, Alaska, Nunavut, Papua New Guinea, the Amazon rain forest, the Australian Outback, Siberia, or Antarctica. – Count Iblis – 2015-11-14T20:04:00.000

@Bregalad - look at the maps. There are related Turkic Muslims all over the general area, but - as the question wisely notes, the ones in Mongolia are uncharacteristically peaceful, compared to Uighurs in China or Uzbekistan's issues or Chechnya. This is a notable discrepancy. – user4012 – 2015-11-15T01:59:15.647

@user4012 The problems in China and Uzbekistans are caused by the regime of terror imposed by their respective regimes. There's no such a regime of terror in Mongolia. In addition, China is definitely not one of those less populated or less proficient economically country I was talking about. – Bregalad – 2015-11-15T17:47:04.620

@Bregalad - agreed. I'm merely explaining why the question makes sense. – user4012 – 2015-11-15T21:14:55.877

That a country's percentage of a population is religion x has little-to-nothing to do with religion x extremists causing terrorist acts within that country. – None – 2015-11-16T19:11:25.960



There are different "Muslims" - they aren't one contiguous, 100% identical block.

Specifically, Kazakhs are not nearly as high of a risk of being interested in insurgency, for a variety of reasons:

  • Kazakhs aren't very religious compared to other largely-Muslim ethnicities. Partially, the reason is living for a long time in atheistic Socialist societies; partially, because they have not previously held major soveregnity the way Arabs or Persians did due to geopolitical history of the region. Your mentality is different when your national identity remembers grand old days of Caliphate or Ottoman Empire.

  • Kazakhs in Mongolia don't have the same drive for independence, again due to geopolitical history. As opposed to Uighurs in China, who were (oversimplifying by a kilometer) conquered and suppressed, Kazakhs fled to Mongolia, to escape Russian Empire; and were allowed to settle. This is not a situation conductive to independence movements.

  • Again with geopolitics, except present: Mongolia overall is a reasonably poor country; and unlike other notable conflicts involving Islam, there's just no major natural resources to carve out as reward for independence.

The above explains the lack of homegrown ethnic+religions conflict.

And there's no international attacks because, with all due respect for Mongolia, the country just isn't important or powerful as a player. What's the point of attacking it? Yes it played a bit part in peacekeeping operations. I wasn't able to find the numbers, but seems like a batallion or so in strength. And chances are, they didn't really do any action.

Mounting a terrorist operation takes time and resources. If the payoff is that some random bit player doesn't send a batallion, you didn't really win anything, and the marginal cost is you spent resources that could be used to attack an important player.

To add to that, the first part also plays a role - it's far harder to mount an attack in foreign country unless you already have a friendly grassroots support on the ground, and radicalized native populace supplying recruits. The lack of domestic turmoil foils this.


Posted 2015-11-14T02:30:51.373

Reputation: 84 347


Political violence by Muslim groups is usually triggered by one of those two elements :

  1. They want to spread Islam by violence and attack non-believers. In that case they will attack powerful and iconic places, typically large iconic cities such as London, Paris, New York, etc... They will only attack first world economically prosperous countries, in a capital or major city.

  2. They want to rebel against a terror regime in their own land, such as what happens in Xinjang. The people living there have seen their land so much destroyed by the Chinese and all attempts to rebel have been repressed in ruthless violence, so using ruthless violence themselves is the only option.

Mongolia fits neither of those criteria: The country is remote, poor and almost nobody would be able to tell the name of its capital without looking it up. The country is such a poor target for 1. style attack, because not enough people would care.

However the country is a rare island of a somewhat clean and democratic country in the region, so Muslims do not need to use violence to gets any kind of rights. They can hope to improve their lives with the more traditional way of taking law reforms to solve their problems. Khazaks and Uigurs are actually better off in Mongolia than in their respective home countries with both are under ruthless dictatorships regimes.

(My sources are: common sense for 1. and Silk Road to Ruins, written by Ted Rall for 2.)


Posted 2015-11-14T02:30:51.373

Reputation: 6 497

3Ulan-Bator (sorry, I just couldn't resist showing off :) – user4012 – 2015-11-16T12:30:03.877

@user4012 Admit it, you've looked it up :) – Bregalad – 2015-11-16T17:03:34.917

3Didn't need to. It was a fraternal socialist ally :) – user4012 – 2015-11-17T01:28:22.170

2Mongolia was a true Soviet meme. From Russian POV Mongolian language is absolutely fantastic: any average inscription in Mogolian (they use Cyrillic) looks like a hilarious collection of Russian swearings. So, of course, everyone knows what is the name of Mongolian capital. – Matt – 2016-04-12T09:48:23.903

@Matt Is "Ulanbator" a swear word in Russian language? – Bregalad – 2016-04-12T15:12:05.860

1No, Ulan-Bator itself is even partially understandable (bator->богатырь i.e. "brave warrior" was borrowed into Russian a long time ago). I mean a few other words which made Mongolia quite popular, so everyone knows at least Mongolian capital, currency and parliament. – Matt – 2016-04-12T16:15:21.660