Whodunnit?

by Nathan Hamm on 4/2/2004

I’m really beginning to think that the biggest publisher of Hizb ut-Tahrir literature is the Uzbek government. If you sift through some of the stories on the bombings, government officials claimed to have found HT literature on bombers and gunmen. You’ll also hear that just about everyone arrested for anything in Uzbekistan is carrying HT literature. This is prima facie laughable. Everyone knows the penalties. And really, how many Islamic militants tie on their headbands, grab the gun, and think, “damn! better not forget that insightful brochure!”

Anyway, the Washington Times has an article on HT. While I think there’s almost no chance that HT was involved in planning or carrying out the attacks, it is great that HT is getting some attention in the press. Americans know very little about this group (from what I hear, Brits have to deal with them fairly regularly).

This little notion though is something that I want to comment on though:

But the crackdown on Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami by the authoritarian government of President Islam Karimov also has raised fresh questions about whether the harsh treatment has boosted support for Islamist militants in Uzbekistan and across the strategic Central Asian region.

HT news sites (like 1924.org and Khilafah.com) will have you believe that crackdowns on religious groups are the major fuel for opposition to the Uzbek government. I’m sure that’s the equation for some, but in my experience, anger at the government has more to do with economics than anything else. For some, Islam is the answer to making things better. I met plenty of middle-aged folks who believed that communism was. All things considered, raising import taxes, closing bazaars, and inventing taxes and fines piss Uzbeks off a whole lot more than shaking down independent Muslims.

There’s not much news otherwise. It’s worth mentioning that Human Rights Watch is stating the obvious and warning of a wave of crackdowns on religious dissidents.


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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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