Indigenous Muslims living in the Russian Federation — native citizens — say their families suffer sustained harassment from the authorities, who are wary of insurgents.
An Associated Press report out of the North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan, where most of the three million population are Muslims, says police routinely raid the homes of people they suspect as potential supporters of the radical Islamic State movement (ISIL).
In the village of Komsomolskoye, near the border with Chechnya, against which Moscow fought two wars to maintain federal control, violence has never completely disappeared from people’s lives.
The family of Rashid Magomedov said he finally left to get away from persecution, driven by despair to join the jihadists.
His brother said he tried to make him stay, build a house and work. But he was told, ‘They won’t let me live in peace, so I’m going off to study in Egypt.’
Abdulah said Rachid knew he wouldn’t have let him go if he’d revealed his true destination, that he even asked their mother to take his passport from him.
The family say they eventually heard that Rashid had been killed in Syria.
Rashid’s desperate father says the anti-terrorist police had repeatedly planted weapons as a pretext to arrest his son.
Calling them idiots, Zaynudin Magomedov said: “If I had weapons, where would I keep them? Under my bed? They threw them there and said, ‘We found cartridges and a grenade’, and I was forced to say they were mine.”
Many people in Dagestan say the security policy fuel ISIL recruitment by encouraging potential militants to leave. The two decades of Russia’s war on Islamic insurgency, mainly in Chechnya and Dagestan, have fostered a generation of fighters.
Police profiling has pushed conservative religious groups to the margins of society and toward extremism, according to Magomed Magomedov, deputy editor of the weekly newspaper Chernovik.
He said there is systematic repression: “These social groups, usually called Salafi or Wahhabis, the ones who are not hiding out in the forests with weapons in their hands, come under continual pressure from law enforcement agencies.”
Rashid left his wife and three children behind.