Anti-Muslim sentiment on rise in Russia: Rights groups

Agence France-Presse, July 30, 2003

Russian human rights groups and Islamic organizations on Wednesday accused authorities of cracking down on Muslim believers following a Moscow suicide attack this month that killed 15 people.

Police have been detaining and questioning women wearing Muslim headscarves following the attack by two Chechen women on a Moscow rock concert, charged Islamic Committee president Geidar Dzhemal.

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“Russia’s recent attitude towards Muslims is moving towards the model of South Africa’s apartheid regime,” he told reporters.

“Women in Islamic headscarves are often forbidden from walking through public places – police stop them in the street to check their documents without any motivation,” Dzhemal said.

Rights groups warned of a similar attitude, including arbitrary arrests, after Chechen rebels took people at a Moscow theatre hostage in October.

“We have been looking for an enemy for a long time and we have found one – any person who doesn’t have a Slavic appearance,” said Lyudmilla Alexeyeva, head of the Helsinki rights group’s Moscow bureau.

Russian mistrust of people from the northern Caucasus – known derogatorily as “blacks” – has increased with the outbreak of the second war against separatist rebels in the mainly Muslim republic of Chechnya in October 1999.

Russia is home to some 20 million Muslims – around one inhabitant in seven.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday July 30, 2003.
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