RT’s Very Bad Idea : Strawmen and Ill-Communications
‘My husband kills kids with drones’: Michelle Obama’s viral pic fuels anti-drone campaign http://t.co/bC8AmRoDuN pic.twitter.com/4CMkw8jPXa
They have retweeted this several times today already. The comparison is terrible on so many levels, not least of which is RT’s lack of coverage of Russian violence against Muslims around the world:
Thousands of Russian nationalists planned to march in Moscow on Monday in an annual show of anger against the presence of Muslim migrants that has previously spilled into violence.
The city-sanctioned demonstration was to take place through the same blue-collar region on the city’s outskirts that saw riots break out three weeks ago over a stabbing murder blamed on a citizen of Azerbaijan.
Organizers hope to bring up to 30,000 people out on the streets in a show of Slavic pride.
In many countries in Eastern Europe, current violence against Muslims is intimately linked to anti-immigrant sentiment as well as historical developments. In the Russian Federation, people from the Caucasus and Central Asia—both Russian citizens and foreigners— suffer the highest proportion of bias motivated violence.
Incidents of personal violence have in some cases been a response to the war in Chechnya and associated terrorist attacks.
At the same time, comprehensive reporting on attacks against migrants from these areas remains unavailable, as the victims tend to fear police abuse or arrest and are least likely to report bias-motivated attacks. Attacks on immigrants from these regions are generally perceived to be motivated by racism, but sometimes have an overlay of religious hatred and intolerance: many people from the Caucasus and Central Asia are Muslims. In a particularly horrific case in August 2007 that seemed to bridge these different aspects of intolerance
The mullah’s moderate approach, and the Kyrgyz migrant’s arrest on Islamist charges, suggest several clues for understanding Islam in Russia. First, we should acknowledge the constantly shifting resonance of Islam and politics in Russia. Second, along with Evangelical Christianity, Sunni Islam is one of the fastest growing religious faiths within Russia, and Muslim converts have increasingly come from ethnic backgrounds that extend beyond the “traditionally Muslim” groups of the Middle Volga, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Third, Sunni and Shia Muslims in Russia, especially (but not only) migrants, are increasingly monitored and arrested throughout the federation. Fourth, dangers of street level, haphazard Russian nationalist aggression, augmented by official policies against selected Muslims, could stoke a backfiring cycle of serious violence that could then create the very polarization and extremism that most rational government officials have been trying to avoid.
(For diverse perspectives, see also: Geraldine Fagan Believing in Russia; Hans-Georg Heinrich, Ludmilla Lobova, Alexey Malashenko, eds. Will Russia Become a Muslim Society?; Sergey Markedonov The Rise of Radical and Nonofficial Islam Groups in Russia’s Volga Region; Shireen Hunter Islam in Russia; and Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer, ed. Religion and Politics in Russia.)
Some Russian nationalists argue that forceful repression of Muslims is the only way to “stem the tide” of Muslim migrants and extremism. However, street violence and official crackdowns have only exacerbated the intertwined interethnic and interreligious tensions. In 2006, in the town of Kondopoga, Karelian republic, a brawl in a café involving Chechen migrants and local Russians turned into a massive civil disturbance lasting several days, in part because of Russian nationalist calls over the Internet for reinforcements against “the Muslims.” Several other “mini-Kondopogas” ensued. The more recent, better-known Manezh Square Moscow riots in 2010 pitted Russian soccer fans and nationalists against those perceived to be from the North Caucasus after a young fan was killed by a man from Kabardino-Balkaria. In 2013, further injuries were incurred when interethnic riots broke out at the Biriulovo market on the outskirts of Moscow, with police seeming to condone Russian youth violence as they arrested many sellers from the Caucasus.
Such disturbances are sometimes fueled by Islamophobic slander against Muslims, and they have sharply increased a climate of mutual suspicion in Muslim and Russian Orthodox communities. This is the context for terrorism that has led to escalating security measures in the North Caucasus and the Middle Volga regions. Muslim youth Jihadists, termed “brothers who have gone to the forest,” are allegedly creating underground cells using impassioned Russian converts as well as local and migrant activists. The recent firebombing of four Russian Orthodox churches in the republic of Tatarstan may mark another stage in the cycle.
Muslim and Russian Orthodox elders jointly have condemned the bombing as a “provocation” to turn Tatarstan into another Chechnya. Religious leaders also worry that police overreaction may be a function of enterprising police copycat accusations of crimes or of central authorities’ quota-like expectations of arrests. Three additional terrorist bombings in the southern Russian town of Volgograd in the lead up to the Sochi Olympics have intensified everyone’s security concerns.