Staunton, March 21 – Russians display a very low level of tolerance to members of certain ethnic groups, especially those from the Caucasus, but surveys shows that that this is driven by ethnicity rather than religion, according to Aleksandr Verkhovsky, head of the SOVA Information and Analysis Center.
One result of this, he says, is that the attitudes of Russians toward Muslims in Russia “are three times better than toward Islam in general. Islam is considered as an ideology that is dangerous and connected with terrorism” while Muslims are generally seen as people like any other (info-islam.ru/publ/jandeks_novosti/territorija_mira_islam_v_tatarstane/35-1-0-38311
The situation elsewhere in Russia may be somewhat different. Bakhrom Khamroyev, president of the Society of Political Immigrants from Central Asia, says that “it isn’t easy to be a Muslim in Russia” given the attitudes and actions of the authorities. But his comments suggest that the problems he is concerned with have more to do with ethnicity than religion as such.
Info Islam’s Guzel Mukhametshina notes that in all regions of Russia, there has been increased attitude to Muslims on the part of the security services but that in Tatarstan at least that has not led to a rise in tensions between followers of different religions, whatever some Russian Orthodox commentators have suggested.
Indeed, she says, one can say that “Tatarstan is practically the Muslim heart of Russia, the doors of which are always open for friendship between peoples and representatives of various confessions.”