Russian Guard Raids On Muslim Facilities Undermining Patriotism Of Believers – OpEd


Muslim leaders in the Russian Federation have long been alarmed by the propensity of many Russian officials and ordinary Russians as well to lump together Muslims who are Russian citizens and Muslim immigrants, something these leaders have long insisted is not only wrong but counterproductive.

Now, Mufti Ravil-Khazrat Pancheyev, the head of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of St. Petersburg and North-West Russia, has taken the unusual step of complaining about this to the head of the Russian National Guard and warning just how dangerous its actions in this regard are.

 His letter to Viktor Zolotov, a copy of which has been published by blogger Islam Belokiyev on his telegram channel ( and reposted at is extremely blunt.

“Muslims of Russia are a multi-million strong community of citizens devoted their state and government,” Pancheyev writes. “There are many who prove the authenticity of their patriotism on the battlefields. Thus, Russian Muslims, with their own blood, strengthen the power of Russia in the Northern Military District” and elsewhere.

“Therefore,” the mufti continues, “it is unbearably painful for us to see the raids carried out with the participation of the Russian Guard on mosques in Moscow, the Moscow region, Yekaterinburg, and other cities of our Motherland. Each such operation, no matter how well its goals are justified … completely destroys the patriotism and loyalty” of Russia’s Muslims.

In fact, he says, “ill-wishers and outright enemies of Russia gain powerful levers as a result by being able to present our country as a den of Islamophobia in the eyes of friendly and neutral Muslim states.” Consequently, “the unconstitutional and immoral practice” of raids by Russian Guards officers on Muslim places of worship must be stopped.

Everyone needs to remember, the mufti concludes, that “a million migrants wanted by law enforcement agencies cannot harm the country as much as selective raids against Muslims are doing.”

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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