Bishkek (AsiaNews) – Faced with the threat of Islamic terrorism, Kyrgyzstan has undertaken a series of initiatives to counter the growth of the Islamic State (IS) group.
On 11 March, the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek hosted the region's first ulema conference on fighting terrorism and extremism. For the first time, top local Muslim experts came together to condemn the horrors perpetrated by Islamic extremists.
Clerics expressed concern about the growing number of young people joining IS to fight in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. “We know that destabilisation threatens Central Asia and that there are outside forces interested in bringing it to the region," said Kadyr Malikov, director of a Bishkek-based think tank on religion, law and politics.
Like the head of Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's foremost seat of learning, leading Central Asian clerics call for radical changes to religious education among Muslims to contain the spread extremism.
"True Islam has always opposed extremism and the killing of innocents," said Osh religious leader Sadikjan Hajji Kamalov. "We need to explain true Islam to the younger generation,” he added.
In view of this, "The ulema should use multimedia and the internet; boldly use modern technologies to spread the true meaning of Islam,” said Abdulaziz Hajji Mansurov, the deputy mufti of Uzbekistan.
In the conference’s final declaration, the group of experts called for greater cooperation between religious officials and government bodies to boost the joint fight against extremism.
Since the conference, the National Security Committee of Kyrgyzstan (NSC) added IS on its list of terrorist organisations banned from its territory.
Kyrgyz security officials also announced the detention of three Tajik nationals at the Osh airport on Sunday. They were accompanied by children and planned to travel from Osh to Istanbul and from there to Syria to fight alongside Islamist militants against Syrian government forces.
The growing number of young Muslims joining the Caliphate’s war against Western powers and fear of infiltration by terrorists have also led Central Asian countries to boost security in their most sensitive regions, like the Afghan border, calling up hundreds of reservists.