Kyrgyzstan’s official imams are less popular than extremists

Khalilo Marasulov, an imam from one of the mosques, was detained by law-enforcement authorities in the town of Osh in Kyrgyzstan’s south. The man distributed leaflets of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the prohibited religious party. At the arrest moment the man held about 30 leaflets with appeals to throw down Kyrgyzstan’s Constitutional regime and institute an Islamic caliphate on the Central Asiatic territory.

The arrest testifies, the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan is still complicated and highly explosive. Incidents, similar to those one occurred with Khalilo Marasulov, are frequent in Kyrgyzstan. Head of the Regional Department for Internal Affairs Rashid Tagayev told journalists, dozens of attempts to distribute extremist leaflets are registered every month. Unfortunately, executors are not always detained. Last year only 47 people had been detained, and only 30 criminal cases were brought to court at that. At the detention moment leaflets, books published by Vakhabbits and video-taped extremist sermons were withdrawn from the people.

What is really dangerous in the situation is that the extremists use legal, officially registered mosques and Muslim communities as their shelters. About two thousand of chapels have been built over the last years in the republic’s south, but the number of real clergymen is much smaller. That is why imams without special education appear, any influence can be easily exerted on them. On the other hand, more and more clergymen educated in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Algeria arrive in Kyrgyzstan. Many of them popularize Hizb-ut-Tahrir ideas, recruit new extremists and even militants at the sermons. The social base is really very favorable for it now. Republic’s law enforcement authorities report, at least five thousands of Hizb-ut-Tahrir followers are in Kyrgyzstan now. They are mostly illiterate people from southern parts of the republic. Last year sections of the prohibited religious party appeared in the north of the republic as well.

Experts say, activity of Hizb-ut-Tahrir is getting more and more aggressive every year, armament is often withdrawn from the party’s followers together with leaflets. Several illegal well-equipped publishing houses have been discovered.

The prohibited party managed to win several top officials over to its side. A deputy from the republic’s Legislative Assembly has been urging for the extremist organization’s legalizing for a long period already. He thinks, the party’s activity mirrors attitude and spirits of the majority of the population, especially rural one. Further oppression of the popular political movement may lead, as the deputy thinks, to social resentment and mass disorders.

At the same time Muslim clergymen, who follow the traditional Islam, are against Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s legalizing. They think, the party’s activity contradicts the norms of Shariat. But the protests are expressed in appeals to the authorities only, not more. The majority of the believers are quitting the jurisdiction of official imams.

Yury Razgulyayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kyrgyzstan

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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