Russia and China are no friends to Islam as they bash Israel

Russia and China have aligned themselves with the Palestinians and, by default, most of the Islamic world, as Israel battles to eliminate Hamas.

Soon after the terror group’s October 7th attack, both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza, and demanded a “ceasefire” as they attempted to manipulate the Gaza war to promote their anti-American agenda. 

Neither Russia nor China has condemned Hamas for its atrocities — while Moscow’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya even declared this week that Israel doesn’t have the right to defend itself in the face of Gaza bombardments.

Russia and China may sound like friends of Islam – but don’t be fooled.

Much like the West, Putin and Xi are obsessed with containing the threat of Islamic extremism — and have no problem with heavy-handed tactics to keep that threat in check.  

A mob attempted to “catch” Jews arriving from Tel Aviv last weekend; Russian authorities arrested scores of the trouble-makers in response.

The Kremlin, in particular, has a long history of brutality toward Muslims.

Last week, for instance, riot police were deployed to restore order in the heavily Muslim, separatist republic of Dagestan, after a pro-Palestinian mob shut down Makhachkala International Airport as they attempted “to catch” Jews arriving from Tel Aviv.

Nearly 100 suspects were detained and Russian authorities declared — as is often the case with restive Muslims — that there will be “no mercy” for the rioters. 

A photo of the destruction in Southern Israel following Hamas’ deadly attack on the nation on October 7.

“They should expect a special military operation (Moscow’s official term for its war on Ukraine), prison, or a bullet,” said a source from Dagestan’s Ministry of Internal Security.

The troubles in Dagestan are particularly notable considering thousands of Dagestanis left to fight for ISIS just a few years ago, further raising Moscow’s ire.

Russia’s tough talk on Degestan is business as usual when it comes to suppressing its Muslim minorities.

An image of Uyghur prisoners in a Chinese-run internment camp in the majority-Muslim province of Xinjiang.
Human Rights Watch

Back in the 1990s, Putin fought two vicious wars in the Muslim republic of Chechnya.

While the conflict was primarily about preventing Chechen independence, it was accompanied by a wave of Islamic extremism that Putin himself clearly viewed as a threat to Russia’s non-Muslim majority.

Chechen connections to Al Qaeda and extremist efforts in Afghanistan further fueled the Kremlin’s anti-Islamic sentiment as Russian forces turned Chechnya into rubble, leaving thousands dead in their wake. 

Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin has spent decades cracking down on the threat of Islamic fundamentalism — from Chechnya to the Crimean peninsula.

While Russia may have considered these moves as standard counter-terrorism measures, Western observers viewed them as grave human rights abuses. Indiscriminate bombings — including the four-month obliteration of the Chechen capital, Grozny in 1999-2000 — were commonplace.

As were so-called filtration camps where suspected Islamist rebels were “filtered out” from other detainees.

According to a Chechen doctor who survived the camp, torture tactics included exposure to extreme cold, faked executions, suffocation, and electric shocks to genitalia. 

Like Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping has a long history of resorting to heavy-handed tactics to reign in his nation’s Muslim minorities.

The Chechen situation reached a boiling point in October 2002 when 50 Islamist Chechen terrorists — including female suicide bombers with explosives strapped to their bodies — stormed a Moscow theater and held 850 audience members hostage for 57 hours.

Russian operatives ultimately stormed the theater and attempted to neutralize the terrorists using a vaporized form of fentanyl 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Over 200 hostages were killed. 

Since then, “round-ups” of suspected Islamists have become commonplace across Russia – from Moscow to Crimea, where Crimean Tatars resisted Putin’s annexation of the contested peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014. 

Meanwhile in Beijing, Putin’s “dear friend” Xi is even less benevolent to Islam.

For nearly a decade, the Chinese government has run the “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism” in the majority-Muslim Xinjiang province in the nation’s northwest. 

Many have described Beijing’s assault on Xinjiang’s indigenous Uyghur population as nothing less than genocide.

Indeed, Beijing’s campaign to erase Uyghur culture has resulted in thousands of destroyed mosques and a ban on Uyghur religious practices and even language.  

Far more severe are the reported 1 million Uyghurs currently held in “re-education camps,” which are run like high-security prisons, with shoot-to-kill orders for anyone trying to escape.

Torture – physical, mental, and sexual – is commonplace.

Women are forcibly sterilized and children are separated from their families as a form of anti-Islamic ethnic cleansing.

Beijing claims these measures are aimed at preventing Islamic terror.

But not everyone is so circumspect.

A scene from the hostage situation in a Moscow theater back in 2002 when Chechen terrorists held hundreds captive for 57 hours. Dozens died when Russian authorities attempted to rescue them.

In 2017, Chinese religious leader Maisuma Jiang Maimunah, wrote on an officially sanctioned government news page: “Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins,” in reference to dismantling Uyghur history, religion, and society.

Half a decade later, Beijing – like Moscow – may appear to have softened its stance against global Islam with its embrace of Hamas and turn to Tehran.

But like everything else with Putin and Xi, political expediency is the only faith that matters. 

Rebekah Koffler is the president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting, a former DIA intelligence officer, and the author of  “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America.”