Anti-Chechen sentiment or Chechenophobia, Nokhchophobia and Anti-Chechenism refers to fear, dislike, hostility, and racism towards ethnic Chechens and anything related to Chechen culture and North Caucasian culture in general. Anti-Chechen sentiment has been historically strong in Russia, and, for some part, spread to the other countries such as former Soviet Union like Azerbaijan, Armenia, to Europe (Poland, France), Middle East (Syria) to further United States. The main causes of hatred against Chechens for decades have been largely due to Russian anti-Chechen propaganda, Chechen involvement in global Islamic terrorism and adherence of Chechens to Islam.
The fear and negative stereotype against Chechens have been largely uprooted by history of Russian conquest of Chechnya and Dagestan, when Russia managed to conquer the Chechen territory in 1864 and merging it within the Russian Empire. During the conquest, Russian general Aleksey Yermolov openly disliked Chechens, considering the Chechens dangerous and hypocritical, while calling for mass genocide on Chechens due to its resistance against Russia. Eventually, when Russia managed to turn Chechnya into its territory, mass ethnic genocide on Chechens occurred in 1860s.
Due to Chechens' refusal to accept Russian rule, a number of violent conflicts erupted in Chechnya in attempt to free Chechnya from Russia. This has often met with brutal reprisals by the Russian authorities, such as the bloody repression of Chechens in 1932 by the Soviet military. In the World War II, the Soviet authorities blamed Chechens for supporting Nazi Germany, resulting with the tragic Aardakh which many Chechens were deported to Siberia and Central Asia, many had died on its brutal journey. These tensions were superseded with the ethnic conflict in 1950s and 1960s, where Russians and Chechens clashed in Grozny; Soviet authorities had largely sided with Russians against Chechens.
The conflict between Chechens and Russians reached its peak when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, when Chechen nationalists, led by Dzhokhar Dudayev, proclaimed the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and sought to separate from Russia, causing the brutal First and Second Chechen Wars. In response, Russian military responded brutally against ethnic Chechens, especially in the second war where more than an estimated thousand of Chechen civilians were killed by Russian military.
Ethnic violence between Russians and Chechens were common in 2000s, due to Chechen link of Islamic terrorism, leading to an increase number of racist killing against Chechens. In 2007, 18-year-old Artur Ryno claimed responsibility for 37 racially motivated murders in the course of one year, saying that "since school [he] hated people from the Caucasus." On 5 June 2007, an anti-Chechen riot involving hundreds of people took place in the town of Stavropol in southern Russia. Rioters demanded the eviction of ethnic Chechens following the murder of two young Russians who locals believed were killed by Chechens. The event revived memories of a recent clash between Chechens and local Russians in Kondopoga over an unpaid bill, when two Russians were killed. Chechens in the Russian Armed Forces have also faced frequent violent activities against them by Russian military instructors.
In modern time, this was also evoked by Irish martial art fighter Conor McGregor when he faced against Khabib Nurmagomedov, stating that the Chechens and Dagestanis are hostile to each other, due to memoir of old Chechen conflict and accusation of betrayal imposed on Dagestanis by Chechens.
In North Ossetia-Alania, during the East Prigorodny Conflict at 1990s, ethnic Ossetian militia groups, many were supported by the Russian government, committed ethnic cleansing of Ingush, a close relative to the Chechens, as well as the Chechens together, due to Chechen support for Ingush against Ossetians.
Pankisi Gorge is home of a large Chechen population within Georgia, and the region has suffered from poverty and xenophobia due to increasing radical Islamism penetrating within the gorge; in addition, the Pankisi Gorge crisis in early 2000s has led to stereotype against Chechen population as terrorists and jihadists since.
In South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia, Chechens have generally supported Georgia against the separatist movement in South Ossetia. This had also led to ethnic cleansing against Chechens in 1990s by South Ossetian force, and it was soon escalated by the Russo-Georgian War in 2008; virtually today there are no Chechen communities left in South Ossetia.
Anti-Chechen sentiment was felt in Armenia due to the support of certain Chechen individuals for Azerbaijan, the arch-foe of Armenia in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, with Chechen force under Shamil Basayev participated directly in the conflict. Chechens had also been accused of fighting against Armenia on the side of Azerbaijan during the recent 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Historically, Poland had welcomed Chechen refugees during 1990s in support for Chechen quest to regain freedom from Russia. However, since 2010s, especially with the rise of the Law and Justice, a far right-wing party, and increasing Islamic terrorism in Europe, Polish attitude toward Chechens have become increasingly negative, with some blamed Chechens for inflaming terrorist attacks due to its Islamic belief, notably by Polish interior minister in 2016, Mariusz B?aszczak, who baselessly accused Chechens as terrorists. This was followed by the increasing denial of Chechen asylum seekers since 2015, with over 20-80,000 Chechens fleeing Russia had been forcibly sent back to Russia by Polish authorities. The anti-Chechen policy by the Polish government has been criticized by the European Union, which Poland is a member, and European Court of Human Rights in 2020 had ruled against Poland for perceived Chechenophobic response by the Polish authorities.
In 2017, Azamat Baiduyev, son of a former bodyguard to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev in 1990s, had been forcibly deported from Belgium to Poland due to uncertain connection to terrorist activities, in which later Poland deported him back to Russia despite outcries in 2018. In 2019, a Chechen refugee who was granted asylum in Poland, Nurmagomed Nurmagomedov, was revoked of his asylum right and faced charges of terrorism, and was about to be deported back to Russia before Polish Lawyer at the Border organization intervened, Nurmagomed himself was unaware before he was surprisingly arrested by the Polish authorities.
In 2017, Azamat Baiduyev, son of a former bodyguard to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev in 1990s, had been forcibly deported from Belgium to Poland due to uncertain connection to terrorist activities, in which later Poland deported him back to Russia despite outcries in 2018. Belgium had been criticized for its anti-Chechen policies, given the country is the home of the headquarter of European Union, and due to Belgium's unwillingness to confront Russia as Brussels sought Moscow's support to counter Islamic terrorism.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing caused by two Chechen immigrants to the country, anti-Chechen sentiment intermingled with Islamophobia grew in the United States, due to Chechens are majority Muslims. Many Chechen Americans had expressed fear of reprisals and racism by many American nationalists.
The United States Senate, in May 2013, amended to tighten visa rules, which is thought to be deliberately anti-Chechen.
Historically, Azerbaijan has been seen as welcoming to Chechens, and during 1990s, there was a strong mutual respect between Chechens and Azerbaijanis; the Chechens volunteered to fight for Azerbaijan against Armenia in Karabakh, while Azerbaijan welcomed Chechen refugees fleeing war at homeland. However, increasing adherence to Salafi movement by Chechens, Chechen involvement in kidnapping and mass murder, as well as its terrorist tendencies, had led to a sharp rise of Chechen Islamic radicalism, thus deteriorated Chechen image in Azerbaijan.
Chechens have largely been able to integrate within the Syrian society. However, due to the alliance between al-Assad family to Russia, antagonism against Chechens have started to bear witness in 2011, following Chechen participation on the opposition forces against the al-Assad government. Chechens have also endured repression by the Ba'athist regime due to its cultural difference and has largely been less successful in preserving its original heritage.
As Chechens mostly sympathize with Palestinians due to common Islamic belief, there is a significant hostility against Chechens in Israel. In 2010, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly compared Hamas with the Chechens, stating they are terrorists, in response to Russia and Turkey's quest to not exclude Hamas in the peace process between Israel and Palestine.
In 2013, after Beitar Jerusalem signed two Chechen Muslim players, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev, anti-Chechen protest erupted by Beitar Jerusalem's supporters due to their Islamic belief. Beitar fans also showed anti-Chechen sentiment by leaving stadium on 3 March when Sadayev scored the first goal for the club, in addition, many stated openly it's not racist to hate Chechens and Muslims.
Due to criminal activities and associated violent behavior of Chechen mafia, there is an ongoing anti-Chechen sentiment grow within French population.
Meanwhile, Chechen terrorism has also been witnessed on the rise in France. In 2018, a Chechen-born terrorist waged knife attack in Paris. In 2020, a Chechen teen had beheaded a teacher over Prophet Muhammad's controversy. This has led to increasing Chechenophobia in France.
In 2017, a Chechen man with alleged tie to the FSB had forced a Hungarian activist and rapper to apologize after throwing balloons filled with food coloring at the monument to Soviet Liberators in Freedom Square in the capital city of Budapest. This had led to significant fear and hostility toward Chechens, albeit they are accused of working for Russia since Chechens are not numerous in Hungary. Likewise, Hungary's support for Poland's radical anti-migrant policies, including its deportation of Chechens since 2015, has also been seen as anti-Chechen.