Metin Mekhtiyev, a well-known Muslim, was stabbed to death outside of his home in Moscow, The Moscow Times reported. Mekhtiyev's colleagues say the attack was racially-motivated.
Mekhtiyev, 33, was of Azerbaijani origin but lived in Russia, where he worked at the Islamic Culture Center, the Associated Press reported. The group says its mission is to improve relations between the Muslim community and Europe, according to The Moscow Times. The center was banned by the Russian Supreme Court last year because of organizational problems, although the center's former director thinks the ban was actually "based on ulterior motives," Gazeta.ru reported.
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Witnesses said that the attack was carried out by a group that included one female.
Extreme right-wing groups in Russia have been carrying out more hate crimes in recent years, BBC News reported. The director of the Islamic Culture Center said Mekhtiyev's death appears to follow the same pattern as the other recent hate crimes. "In St. Petersburg there have been many cases [of] non-Slav being murdered, attacked by a group of four or five people, in which there is always a girl so that the men would not attract much attention at night," Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov, the director of the Islamic Culture Center, told Gazeta.ru.
News of the stabbing comes at a time when Eastern Europe is struggling with a rise in right-wing nationalist groups that often have xenophobic, anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim views, GlobalPost reported last week.