​300 Muslims Arrested Amid Police Crackdown​​

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June 9, 2021 | 10:45 pm

300 people, mostly Muslims, have been detained by Moscow police after President Vladimir Putin ordered a crackdown on radical Islamists ahead of next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Among the detained in Russia are 170 foreigners, who were held at a Muslim prayer room in the capital, and police said Islamist literature had been confiscated, according to Radio Free Europe.

It is the third such raid targeting Muslim places of worship in Moscow or St. Petersburg this year, Reuters reported.

The “fight against corruption, crime and the insurgency has to be carried out harshly and consistently,” Putin told a meeting of security force officers, according to the radio station.

“The situation in the North Caucasus should be kept under particular control,” Putin said.

The Russian Federation is home to some 23 million Muslims in the north of the Caucasus and southern republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

Islam is Russia’s second-largest religion representing roughly 15 percent of its 145 million predominantly Orthodox population.

Russia is struggling to extinguish an insurgency that stems from its two devastating wars against separatists in Chechnya, just east of Ingushetia and North Ossetia, and has been fueled by chronic unemployment, police brutality and poverty.

Militants fighting for an Islamic state in the mountainous region have increasingly targeted Muslim leaders who are backed by the Russian authorities.

Two decades after a territorial dispute erupted into a brief war in 1992, there is also lingering tension between mostly Christian North Ossetia and Muslim Ingushetia, but there was no indication the shooting was linked to that conflict.