2012-07-02 17:04:00

Kyrgyzstan govt doing too little in fighting Islamist extremism - experts

Osh, July 2, Interfax - Kyrgyz experts argue that Kyrgyzstan's government is not doing enough in fighting Islamist extremism, and that more needs to be done than ongoing arrests of members of radical organizations, including mosque imams.

Recently police in the Jalal-Abad Region in southern Kyrgyzstan arrested members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international Islamist party whose activities are banned in Kyrgyzstan. Those arrested included the imam of a local mosque.

Previously, it turned out that an imam in the southern city of Osh city had been involved in recruiting young men for Islamist guerrilla training camps, and one more imam was killed in a security operation in the city - he was suspected of being a member of a group that was said to have been planning a series of terrorist attacks in Kyrgyzstan.

"Here mosque imams are mainly appointed from among people who have been educated abroad, but no one wonders where they were educated and what they studied," Islam expert Tologon Keldibayev told reporters. "On the streets, we often see members of the Tablighi Jamaat religious movement, and no one wonders what they are preaching."

Though Kyrgyzstan is a secular state, "a state approach is needed in this situation - otherwise the situation will be getting worse," Keldibayev said.

"To make the situation more difficult, the population has very poor religious knowledge, people can't by themselves distinguish traditional Islam from its radical movements," he said. "People come to the mosque with high hopes, but the preachers there are imams from radical religious movements," he said.