This is just going to be a quick post, as I have to run out the door in a few minutes to teach, but this is just so shocking and horrible!! Yesterday race riots broke out in Moscow, and it seems like the atmosphere is just getting worse. Over 800 people have been detained by the riot police. Neo-Nazis are storming popular places like the Evropeisky Mall and Kievskaya metro station, waiting for anybody who "looks" like an immigrant (ie. from the Caucasus and the "stans" - Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, etc) to come out so they can beat them up...or worse. This is so terrifying and disgusting. But am I surprised?
Sadly, no. I have had to overhear too many of my own students - all, for the most part, well-educated, well-off, and well-traveled - make racial slurs and comments in regards to Muslim and Jewish minorities. This is not to say that all Russians are racist!! Far from it. But there is a pervasive attitude here towards racial and religious minorities that is very, very terrifying to witness. As these rioters gather and scream out epithets such as "Russia for the (ethnic) Russians! Moscow for the Muscovites!" I can only go about my day here, a few kilometres from Moscow, and pray that the people who are the targets of such hatred and ignorance remain safe. As a foreigner myself in this country, I was told today that I should avoid speaking English or badly-accented Russian when I'm out on the street in case I set myself up as a target, but that I should be "okay" because I "don't look like I'm from the Caucasus." Oh wow. So just because I have white skin I'll be left alone by these insane people??? What kind of world do we live in?
One of my best friends is Jewish; I also have Muslim friends. I have Catholic friends, atheist/agnostic friends, people I care about deeply from all walks of life, from all religions, and from all countries. I was just never raised to differentiate between religions, between skin colour, between races, like this. It absolutely overwhelms me that there are people who have such hate in their lives.
Please keep the people who are the targets of these riots in your prayers.