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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

[12.02.22] Kyrgyz Security Officials Say Banned Islamic Group Steps up Activity

Kyrgyz security officials said Wednesday that the activity of banned Islamic party Hizb-ut-Tahrir is on the rise in the south of this former Soviet republic, a region that has been the country's flashpoint for tension.
Security service spokeswoman Chinara Asanova said authorities are concerned about a recent increase in activity from the group, which is banned and persecuted throughout Central Asia. She said several Hizb-ut-Tahrir activists had been detained in southern districts recently while spreading anti-government leaflets.
"We are actively investigating this as we believe the printing of leaflets is being done in a centralized manner," Asanova said.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir is a secretive organization that aims to unite all Muslims under a caliphate ruled by Islamic Shariah law. It emerged in the Middle East and spread to former Soviet Central Asia in the 1990s. The group says it does not advocate violence.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir faces its harshest persecution in neighboring Uzbekistan, where thousands of alleged members have been jailed.
In Kyrgyzstan, the group's latest leaflets called for boycotting a referendum on a new constitution held earlier this month. They claimed that there can be no constitution except the Koran, Islam's holy book.
The leaflets also criticized authorities in connection with the recent death in jail of a Hizb-ut-Tahrir member convicted of stirring up religious and ethnic hatred. He died of lung disease. According to the Kyrgyz security service, the group has about 2,000 followers here. In recent years, the impoverished traditional stronghold of Islam in Central Asia has been a source of instability for the entire region.

Associated Press, February 12, 2003

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