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Islam could penetrate into government agencies in Kazakhstan: Expert

22 november 2011, 19:36
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The current religious situation in Kazakhstan and Central Asia shows unpreparedness of the society for the new islamic trends in the region, Tengrinews.kz reports citing Nurlan Alniyazov, expert on Central Asia and Director of Kunseyin Foundation of Religious Studies, as saying at the international press-conference in Almaty called New Trends in Development of Islam and Their Effect on Stability in Central Asia organized by Exclusive magazine and Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

“There are two new trends in development of the Muslim religion in Kazakhstan: integration of religious groups (including extremist ones) into the government agencies and creation of alternative statehood projects by religious groups and their attempt to participate in political life of the country,” the expert said.

Alniyazov pointed out that radicalization of religious groups that has lately been seen in the country makes one think of a possibility of further merging of extremist groups in Kazakhstan and CA with each other and joining around the goal of Jihad: “Salafi groups preaching Takfir ideology are the most radical extremists posing a threat for Kazakhstan and CA in general. Those groups are the ones suspected of the latest terrorist attacks in Kazakhstan against law-enforcement authorities and the National Security Committee.”

According to the expert, the reasons of unpreparedness of the society and CA countries for new tendencies of Islam in the region lay both in historical past of the region and in the modern evolution of Islam in CA. In the last centuries circumstances conditioned that the religion and the Islamic community of Central Asian region was very localized and had it own religious and cultural identity. But emergence of independent states in Central Asia gave a start to chaotic and uncontrolled self-organization of the Islamic community of CA and its integration into the wider Islamic world. “This caused the spread of many religious trends and movements in the region. As a consequence, religion became business or political leverage for certain groups escalating the conflict inside the Islamic community and disagreement between secular state institutions and the religion,” the speaker said.

The researchers talked about several new trends in development of Islam in Kazakhstan in 1990s. Back then the Islamic community was dividing into official and unofficial structures: opposition between the Spiritual Management of Muslims of Kazakhstan (SMMK) and Islamic organizations, i.e. between Jamaats (movements) and the mosques beyond SMMK's control, Alniyazov noted. “Today this battle has moved on to political level, where unofficial Islamic structures are presenting their own projects for the country's development as an alternative to the existing system. The situation is made more complicated by such a new and to some extent artificial thing as the conflict between Sunni law schools (Madh'habs), that splits the religious community into Jamaats and many groups confronting each other and making religion uncontrollable,” the expert said.

The expert thinks that concerns over this problem are reflected even in the latest Kazakhstan Law on Religion, saying that the state acknowledges the historical role of Hanafiyah Madh'hab in the region.

“Kazakhstan's Islamic community divided into many groups based on territorial and other factors and has been developing outside of control of religious and state institutions. That's why we are seeing the spread of extremist ideas and destructive religious groups in the country. According to the official prosecutors' information, the authorities have registered around 40 thousand followers of extremist religious ideologies that do not acknowledge the authority and the role of the central religious organization in 2008,” the speaker said. The expert sees a solution of this problem in restoration of traditional Islamic institutions under adequate state control. According to him, this requires making SMMK the efficient reputable organization regulating activities of the whole Islamic community.


By Zhuldyz Seisenbekova

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