Moscow – A Russian Muslim activist has been found dead in Moscow with his throat slashed, a grisly killing that has sent shockwaves across the sizable Muslim minority in Russia.
The murder is “brutal, barbaric and medieval," said Abdul Waheed Niyazov, an adviser to the head of the Russian Mufti Council, Ria Novosti news agency reported Wednesday, April 11.
“They hit him in the head with a heavy object and then cut his throat.”
Metin Mekhtiyev, a 33-year-old Muscovite, was killed Tuesday while returning home in central Moscow.
"A group of five people including a young woman first beat him up and then slit his throat," said Maryam Nalobina, a representative of the Russian Islamic Cultural Centre, citing information from witnesses.
Police say robbery might be the cause of murdering Mekhtiyev, who had worked at the Islamic Culture Center, one of Russia’s oldest Islamic groups which was banned by the Supreme Court last year.
Police say that attackers had stolen pricey Vertu phone, around 5,000-6,000 rubles ($168-$200) and apartment keys from the Muslim victim.
The Russian Mufti Council has denied reports that the victim was an Azerbaijani national.
“He was Russian. He was born and raised in Moscow,” Mekhtiev said.
Mekhtiev leaves behind a widow and a two-month child.
“He enjoyed well-deserved respect and authority among youths,” the Islamic Cultural Center said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP), adding that he worked with a number of Islamic organizations like the Russian Muftis Council and the Russian Congress of Caucasus Peoples.
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.
Russian Muslims believe that the murder is the latest in hate crimes by ultranationalists.
“There was a whole series of such murders in Saint Petersburg in the past years,” Nalobina told AFP.
According to the Islamic Cultural Center, Mekhtiyev was previously attacked by ultranationalists in 2003, ending up in hospital.
A spokesman for Moscow police confirmed to AFP that the body of a man with knife wounds had been found but declined to give further details.
Russia has seen a dramatic rise in nationalist sentiments since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Non-Slavs residents in Russia have been always and frequently attacked by Neo-Nazi gangs and shaved-heads racist groups.At least 21 non-Slavs were killed in 2011, a decline from 42 in the previous year.
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