Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Foray Into Politics

by Nathan Hamm on 8/12/2005

For a group of people avowedly opposed to the democratic process, it might seem somewhat odd that Hizb ut-Tahrir is complaining about harassment for being involved in Kyrgyzstan’s presidential campaign.

Outlawed in Kyrgyzstan, Hizb-ut-Takhrir seconded Tursunbai Bakir uulu for president. Running for president, Bakir uulu promised to rule by the Koran and Shar’ah law. Actively promoting their candidate, Hizb-ut-Takhrir activists were his official observers at polling stations.

“Hizb-ut-Takhrir activists are being arrested for active participation in the presidential election,” human rights activist Ravshan Gapirov of Osh said at his press conference a month after election, on August 9, 2005.

“Off the record, detectives tell detainees that they were arrested for promotion of Bakir uulu,” Gapirov said. “Unfortunately, we cannot prove it because we were not present to hear it. What information I possess, however, indicates that all detainees were active followers of Bakir uulu.”

A Hizb ut-Tahrir member interviewd for the story goes on to say that these and other recent arrests of HT members are all due to the Kyrgyz government’s realization that the organization is a bona fide opposition movement.

Funny, I would have thought that the arrests might have to do with HT’s legal status in Kyrgyzstan and that the group’s descent into ineffectual internal squabbling during the March protests indicated it is not all it’s cracked up to be.

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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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