Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Bastrykin Now Attacking Not Just Muslim Immigrants but also Muslim Citizens of the Russian Federation, Aysin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 7 – Aleksandr Bastrykin, head of the Russian Investigative Committee since 2011 and notorious in recent times for his attacks on immigrants, has begun to attack the constitutional rights of Muslim citizens of the Russian Federation to practice their religion as they see fit, Ruslan Aysin says.

            Many Muslims in Russia have long feared that attacks on Muslim immigrants would spread to them, the Tatar journalist who now lives in Turkey continues; and now it has happened, with Bastrykin leading the way (idelreal.org/a/i-vot-doshli-do-detskogo-pitaniya-aysin-ob-antimusulmanskih-shagah-rossiyskih-organov-vlasti-/33021388.html).

            According to Aysin, senior officials in Moscow have “decided that it is necessary to radically limit the rights of the Muslim peoples of Russia” and have selected Bastrykin to lead this effort, apparently confident that his words at least for a time will be read by many as limited to immigrants.

            In fact, however, Aysin continues, what the head of the Investigation Committee is doing, is part of “an especially dangerous game” intended to radically limit the rights not just of Muslim immigrants but also those of indigenous Muslim peoples of the Russian Federation, nearly all of whom are citizens of that country and supposedly enjoy its constitutional rights.

            Speaking in St. Petersburg, Bastykin made a number of policy statements that “can only be interpreted as nationalist and extremist,” the journalist says. For example, he said that Muslims by building prayer houses are “physically seizing our territory not only by their ideology but by means of physical objects” (youtube.com/watch?v=7KJ5ieTZzTw).

            And he urged that Russian businessmen hire only “true Russians” and not hire those who are only “formally” citizens of Russia.  Both these declarations, of course, can be read as being primarily about immigrants in the first instance. But as Aysin points out, Bastrykin is not restricting himself to immigrants alone.          

            A clear sign of that fact is that the Investigations Committee chief has ordered the inspection of a school in Tatarstan because of its plans to give pupils halal food, a step approved by the schools, parents, the Muslim and Orthodox Christian hierarchies, but one that Bastrykin clearly feels is an offense against Russians and Russian law.

            Until 2017, all Tatar schools served halal products, Aysin points out; but he notes that in that year, Putin launched a ban on the compulsory teaching of non-Russian languages in republic schools and refused to extend the federal agreement with Kazan on power-sharing arrangements between Tatarstan and the Russian Federation.

            This is part of a broader effort to prevent Muslim citizens of the Russian Federation from exercising their rights and reducing the to the status of “second-class” citizens “even in national republics which have a predominantly Muslim population despite their constitutional right to do so, the Tatar journalist continues.

            And this is happening “because someone in high offices has decided that instead of the constitution, the main guidelines [for the treatment of Muslims in general and Muslim citizens in particular] are something else,” the kind of decision that was made in tsarist Russia and more recently in Nazi Germany, Aysin concludes.

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