Islamists Exploit Kyrgyz Crisis

by Laurence on 3/23/2005 · 2 comments

Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press, reporting from Bishkek, details charges that Islamsts may be involved in anti-Akayev protests taking place in Southern Kyrgyzstan, including members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir:

Although the Bush administration supports pro-democracy movements, the turmoil in the region also has created a potentially dangerous opening for extremist Islamic parties.
Hizb ut-Tahrir, or the Party of Liberation, has a following among the young in Central Asia. It has called for Islamic rule to replace secular governments and unite the Muslim world. And its pamphlets criticize U.S. bases established in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to support the war on terror.

A senior Western diplomat in Tajikistan confirmed that Hizb ut-Tahrir’s influence is growing across the region, particularly among the young who are looking for alternatives to what they perceive as corrupt, totalitarian regimes with links to the Soviet past.

The United States has not declared Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organization because it does not advocate violence, but the diplomat said some of its literature is virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic and could inspire violence.

Leaders across Central Asia have banned Hizb ut-Tahrir. Kyrgyz security authorities have accused the group of having links with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is allied to al-Qaida and operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Kyrgyz government has also warned of cooperation between Hizb ut-Tahrir and Uighur separatists in China, but has not provided evidence. Russia has accused Hizb ut-Tahrir of involvement in breakaway Chechnya (news – web sites).

The south of Kyrgyzstan is where Hizb ut-Tahrir is strongest, presidential spokesman Seghizbayev told the AP. He said the group blames the government for every problem and makes promises it cannot fulfill.

Hizb ut-Tahrir has become more politically active. In Jalal-Abad, the scene of some of the fiercest anti-government protests, the group collected 20,000 signatures on a petition calling for more Islamic instruction in schools and segregation of the sexes.

The petition, circulated in November, also demanded state sponsorship of Muslim schools and restrictions on the sale of pornography. Candidates who espoused a like-minded philosophy got support from Hizb ut-Tahrir members.

Askarov Azimjan, a human rights activist whose office in southern Kyrgyzstan is partially funded by Freedom House, says Hizb ut-Tahrir has emerged as an alternative for residents frustrated by corruption.

“Most ordinary people I think support them now because they feel that in a democratic society it is difficult to get anything done without corruption. People believe that if the government was religious the situation would change,” he said from Bazar Korgon, about 20 miles from Jalal-Abad.

“Even high school students know exactly how much they will have to pay if they want to get a job in the police station,” he added. “If Hizb ut-Tahrir registered as a political party it would get a lot of support. But the government won’t allow them to register. They are afraid.”

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TT March 24, 2005 at 6:23 am

I think it’s safe to say HuT is not behind the protests in Kyrgyzstan, or even closely associated with them. HuT simply does not have the mindset to engage in practical politics like this. Petitions for more state funding of Islamic-related events and institutions, yes. Oragnising a revolt to take political power? No way. Having met HuT representatives, I can say they just don’t think on a practical level like a political party. If they were allowed to compete as a party in open elections, it’s hard to say if they’d even really want to in earnest. But if they did, it’s a sure thing that their ideas would turn a lot of people off right away. Kyrgyzstan is still (thankfully) very secular.

Habib Hamad March 24, 2005 at 5:47 pm

I don’t think the secular fellow before me can claim to know any thing what so ever about HT. his idea merely comes from what he gets from the distracting and misleading media. Knowing HT and knowing members of HT for more than 15 years assured me that they have a clear and strong idea of what politics and how it should be. I can (evidently) say that they have a complete clear idea of what they want, and how they will do it. They want an Islamic State, where Islam is implemented in every part of the system, and it is (practically) the basis for the constitution. HT does not participate in elections based on secular systems because he does not recognize them as “valid” regimes islamically, and they have to be changed into one Islamic State. This is why I don’t thnk that HT has any thing to do with what is happening now in Kyrgyzstan.

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