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Islamophobia in Russia


Source : Arab news / 3 Dec 2013

Last week, the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyan instunned the world by announcing that the city was banning the construction of new mosques. The ban was one of the latest and clearest signs of the growing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments in Russia.

There are an estimated 2 million Muslim residents in the city, but none of Moscow’s four existing mosques can hold more than 10,000 people. Worshippers frequently have to use the streets or wait for hours to enter the existing mosques, especially on Fridays and religious occasions.

Although most pronounced in Moscow, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant racism is not confined to the capital city. According to the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, surveys show that xenophobia and other racist expressions are prevalent among 50 percent of Russians. Amnesty International has reported that racism in Russia was “out of control” and estimated the number of Russian neo-Nazis in the tens of thousands.

Non-Muslims also face racist attacks. According to a study conducted by radical groups, 59 percent of Africans living in Russia reported being physically attacked since coming to Russia, many of them multiple times. A staggering percentage of them (75 percent) reported being verbally abused. Those attacks took place despite the fact that a majority of Africans have reportedly started avoiding crowded areas, including the metro.

However, the most numerous and virulent attacks appear to be directed at Muslims, especially those from the Caucasus. They are Russian citizens by virtue of the Russian rule of their lands, but that fact has not shielded them from attacks nor provided them with adequate police protection outside their regions.

According to the Levada Center, another rights monitoring group, over 30 percent of Russians and 49 percent of Muscovites have negative feelings toward the people of the Caucasus.


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