Saturday, October 15, 2005

Are Russian police racially profiling Muslim men?

The title of this AP story seems to imply it:
Russian Police Round Up Muslim Men
Against Backdrop of Caucasus Attacks, Russian Police Begin Rounding Up Muslim Men


NALCHIK, Russia - When Zarema Valgasova last saw her son, he was semiconscious and bleeding profusely from a badly broken arm with cigarette burns on his body the result, she says, of police torture after his arrest.

After Thursday's attack by dozens of Islamic militants on police and security facilities in the southern Russian city of Nalchik, police rounded up more than three dozen people[,] most of them Muslim men.

The latest violence was in Kabardino-Balkiriya republic, a tense area ridden with poverty and corruption. It underscored the volatility of the Caucasus region where a long-running conflict in Chechnya is spilling over with increasing frequency to nearby republics.

At least 108 people, including 72 attackers, were killed in this week's fighting, according to a tally of accounts by officials, news reports and an Associated Press reporter.

Twenty-four law enforcement officers were killed and 51 were wounded, government officials said.

Chechen rebels have claimed involvement in the attacks, raising fears that Islamic militants who have been fighting Russian forces for most of the past decade were opening a new front in the troubled Caucasus....

Russian officials said the 2002 seizure of hundreds of people in a Moscow theater, the 2004 school hostage-taking in the southern city of Beslan that killed 330 and other terror attacks were conducted by the Chechen militants with support and guidance from al-Qaida.

However, there is no firm evidence the two groups are coordinating their strategies.
I can't comment on how Russian police are treating those they arrest, because I simply don't know. But if this article is really implying racial profiling, then it's being stupid.

I've said before that racial profiling based on appearance will not always work; all terrorists need is one to slip through. But what the Russian police are doing is not necessarily racial profiling. When male Chechen Muslims are almost always those committing terrorist acts against Russians (including killing children at Beslan), should we be surprised that most of those being arrested by Russian police are Muslim males?

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