Court in Kazakhstan bans radical Islamic group

A Kazakh court on Monday outlawed a radical Islamic group that has been banned in several other ex-Soviet nations.

The Astana City Court agreed with prosecutors who claimed that the activities of Hizb-ut-Tahrir threatened to undermine the country's national security.

Authorities in neighboring Uzbekistan blame Hizb-ut-Tahrir for attacks there last year that killed more than 50 people. The group has denied responsibility.

The court ruling comes amid growing fears of instability in Central Asia following the ouster of the longtime president of neighboring Kyrgyzstan last week. Askar Akayev fled his country after opposition protesters took over government headquarters on Thursday. Some analysts fear Islamic radicals could take advantage of the unrest to destabilize the entire region.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which originated in the Middle East in 1953 and whose Arabic name means Party of Liberation, claims to disavow violence in its quest to create a worldwide Islamic state. In addition to Uzbekistan, it has also been banned Kyrgyzstan and in Russia, where it is branded a terrorist organization.

Radical Islamic groups emerged in predominantly Muslim Central Asia after the 1991 Soviet collapse. While Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have seen bombings and incursions blamed on extremist groups, Kazakhstan has seen no attacks by Islamic militants.

Kazakh authorities have recently urged tougher security measures, warning that Hizb-ut-Tahrir was stepping up activity. The group has not sought official registration and mostly operates underground, spreading information through leaflets.

Associated Press

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