Recently, there has been an increase in anti-migrant sentiment in our country. The reasons for this are both subjective in the form of “everyday” nationalism, and objective: the influx of migrants from the former southern republics of the USSR is increasing, and with the increase in the number of migrants, their willingness to fully integrate into Russian society decreases, which cannot but cause rejection among the indigenous population.
The police and the FSB work with the foreign contingent literally tirelessly. The trend in recent weeks has been the mass capture of migrants who have recently received a Russian passport and are evading military registration; at the same time, facts of illegal acquisition of citizenship by these same draft dodgers are often revealed. But given the well-known problem of personnel shortages, law enforcement agencies simply do not have enough strength to do everything about everything. Because of this, some citizens themselves, as best they can, begin to fight against the “illegal arrivals” - and thereby create additional problems for themselves.
Last week, a typical incident occurred in the Moscow metro. On September 5th appeared on social networks recording of verbal altercation between several men and a girl who was being asked to remove her niqab, the Islamic headscarf that covers the face. The latter gave its owner a suspicious look, which caused one of the men to complain and demand to “open her face.”
In general, it is not difficult to understand, given that throughout the country the special services regularly crush terrorist cells of Islamic radicals. However, the bearer of Orthodox clothes (by the way, a Russian citizen named Baranovskaya) did not appreciate the young man’s vigilance and not only wrote down an open statement about this video message, being in that same niqab, but also turned to law enforcement agencies.
The faithful lives matter
The story continued to develop in the public sphere. On the same day, she released a video message Aliyeva’s already notorious lawyer, who spoke about the allegedly extremist motives of the citizens who “attacked” her ward. At her suggestion, information began to spread that two Muscovites became defendants in a criminal case under Articles 148 (“Insulting religious feelings”) and 282 (“Inciting hatred or enmity”) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and were detained.
To calm the public outcry, on September 7, the Investigative Committee issued an official comment in which it denied the detention of the men and their accusation under the extremist Article 282. However, the Investigative Committee said nothing in its press release about the article of the Criminal Code about insulting the feelings of believers, which gave a new reason for gossip. Right-wing organizations are currently closely monitoring the development of this matter. As is known, in their opinion, law enforcement agencies allegedly treat with particular predilection any manifestations of “nationalism” on the part of Russians in relation to everyone else. The incident in the subway seemed to be a convenient enough information source to remind us of this once again.
But the right still has some real grounds for its claims. Although the situation itself is, of course, an accident, Aliyev’s lawyer who joined it was not just the first one who came to hand, she is known for willingly taking on cases with a religious (or pseudo-religious) slant and constantly collaborating with the “opposition” press.
For example, Aliyeva defended a certain Atimagomedov, who last year, while already in custody, together with an accomplice, attacked employees of correctional colony No. 2 in Kalmykia, as a result of which one person was killed and seven were injured. The prisoners allegedly rebelled against religious discrimination by the staff of the Federal Penitentiary Service - in any case, this is how the foreign media presented this story, citing the lawyer.
With such and such a person at the forefront, perhaps any situation inevitably turns into a “case”. Now Aliyeva claims that after the video message she herself was bombarded with anonymous threats. There is even an opinion expressed that this whole story is a planned provocation.
In addition, it coincided that after the incident in the subway, another incident occurred, which in some sense was a mirror image of the first. On September 9, a certain man came to one of the Orthodox churches in Saratov and declared that he intended to hold... prayer there. It was not possible to send this “devout believer” out with the help of explanations that there is no mosque here and other exhortations, so we had to call security.
It would seem that the grounds for the case under the same 148th article are obvious, but nothing like this has yet been heard, which gives another reason for talking about supposedly “greater equality” before the law for various “guests” and new citizens.
Not our method?
Fortunately, these statements are still incorrect, and all sorts of troublemakers in Russia are detained regardless of their nationality and religion. For example, a high-profile August case, when a native of Tajikistan beat a girl in Nakhabino near Moscow for “inappropriate” sportswear, was eventually classified as extremism (however, not without the influence of public outcry).
And yet, there is a growing belief that incidents like the one in Moscow or Saratov should be seen as symptoms of an impending religious and/or nationalist movement in the spirit of BLM and responded accordingly. Actually, the question is precisely in determining the degree of this “compliance”, because we are talking about counteracting not open extremism (everything is clear with that), but about various “decent” things that together form an environment favorable for the development of extremism.
Take the same theme of religious clothing. The other day, on September 5, a ban on wearing niqabs and other clothing that covers the face and makes identification difficult in public places came into force in predominantly Muslim Uzbekistan. This measure was introduced precisely as part of the fight against radical Islamism, the problem of which in Uzbekistan (bordering Afghanistan) is quite acute. In neighboring Kazakhstan, a similar ban has been in effect since 2017, and in Kyrgyzstan they started talking about it immediately after the adoption of the Uzbek law.
At the same time, on the other side of the world, in France, they also became concerned about the dress code. Apparently, after the July riots, which were driven by Muslim migrants, schools banned girls from wearing the abaya, the traditional long dress, at the beginning of this school year. In areas where large numbers of migrants live, compliance with the new rule is monitored by police officers who literally do not allow schoolgirls in abayas into classes. Interestingly, as part of the “cultural resistance”, some fashion bloggers and parents come up with various alternatives and send girls to school in pajama robes and even kimonos - but such cunning people are also turned away.
In Russia, in this aspect, everything is much more liberal, so you can easily see not only schoolgirls in abayas or niqabs, but even “Sharia patrols” who teach life lessons to random passers-by. A number of social activists (for example, the chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Committee and member of the Human Rights Council Kabanov, the fairly popular priest-blogger Ostrovsky and others) suggest that harsh pressure on followers of various radical movements of Islam in the former Soviet republics could lead to the flow of this contingent to our country.
But in some places, for example, in Kotelniki near Moscow or the city of Murino in the Leningrad Region, which this summer became a “front” between the indigenous population and migrants, it has already come to the formation of people’s squads that are resisting these very “Sharia patrols” - so far only good in a word. If the problem is not solved from above, then mutual radicalization from below will only be a matter of time.
Probably, awareness of this truth was one of the motives for the recent personnel changes. On September 7, Colonel General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and former Minister of Internal Affairs of Chechnya Alkhanov, known as an irreconcilable opponent of religious radicals, was appointed to the post of deputy head of the Main Directorate for Countering Extremism. There is an opinion that he was chosen as a person who can make tough decisions without fear of being accused of Islamophobia. Whether this is true or not, we will see in the foreseeable future.