Staunton, July 24 – Last Friday, during weekly prayers, Moscow police raided several mosques in the Russian capital claiming that they were doing so in order to identify and arrest for deportation Muslims illegally in the Russian Federation. But local Muslims, leaders of North Caucasus republics, and human rights activists dismissed that claim.
Several dozen Muslims took to the streets to protest the interruption of religious services, the leaders of Chechnya and Daghestan complained to Russian officials, and Svetlana Ganushkina, a rights activist, described the actions as examples of Islamophobia (fortanga.org/2023/07/toptalis-po-kovram-musulmane-nedovolny-rejdami-v-podmoskovnyh-mechetyah/ and novayagazeta.eu/articles/2023/07/21/politsii-napomnili-pro-zakon).
The raids were so clumsily carried out that in one case, a policeman apologized to the Muslims for disturbing their prayers. Some Muslim leaders urged that their followers not protest, but passions have risen to the point that calls for calm are being ignored, with many of the faithful seeing these raids as evidence that the Russian state is against Islam.
If the government wants to find illegal immigrants, they say, it needs to look at Russian employers who fail to register immigrant workers from Central Asia and thus make them illegals rather than at the capital’s small registered mosques who are focused exclusively on providing religious sustenance to all believers.
Should there be more raids, the likelihood that protests by Muslims will grow; but if the streets more often in order to press their demands for the opening of additional mosques in the Russian capital and for protection against anti-Muslim attitudes and actions from the Russian population.