Reviews

For some time, suffice to insert the word ‘extremism’ in the title of any kind of project or publication on Central Eurasia for increasing the latter’s success in the headquarters of international security.  The present volume, however, distinguishes oneself from the exceptionally abundant and often odd literature that has been published on this matter since the early 1990s, by its exceptionally coherent inner organisation that make it a real monograph, and by the presence of a number of acute contributions on the region’s radical Islamist circles, through the case of the Hizb al-Tahrir—the new phobia of chancelleries since al-Qaida and the Taliban’s threat have withdrawn from the boundaries of Central Asia.

The first part, descriptive, on radical movements, is opened with a study on Uzbekistan by one of the best specialists of modern re-Islamisation movements in this country, most particularly in the Fergana Valley:  The author insists on the impact of political repression of the Hanafi protestation movements upon the appearance and structuring of Salafi groups; the latter’s growing fanaticism is explained by the little amount of their members, their isolation, and the continuous hostility toward them of the state and of official religious institutions (Bakhtiiar Babadzhanov, “Religiozno-oppozitsionnye gruppy v Uzbekistane [Religious Opposition Groups in Uzbekistan],” 43-63).  The author of the following paper astutely shows how in an overall context of growing restriction of public liberties the Kyrgyz state has been using the threat of the Hizb al-Tahrir for censuring alternative organisations and the medias with the support of Western chancelleries (Saniia Sagnaeva, “Religiozno-oppozitsionnye gruppy v Kyrgyzstane: Khizb-ut-Takhrir [Religious Opposition Groups in Kyrgyzstan: the Hizb al-Tahrir],” 64-72).  The temptation by Central Asian administrations to use the Tahrir as a scarecrow—in spite of the non-violent activity of this party’s militants in Central Asia—is illustrated by a communication by a representative of the Tajikistani government on the arrest campaigns implemented as to 1999 against this party (Kurbonali Mukhabbatov, “Religiozno-oppozitsionnye gruppy v Tadzhikistane: Khizb-ut-Takhrir [Religious Opposition Groups in Tajikistan: the Hizb al-Tahrir],” 73-87.

The second part is more analytical on the causes of the reactivation of political Islam in the south of Central Asia, through the case of Tajikistan—Kazakhstan and Xinjiang have been cautiously eliminated from this volume, as well as Turkmenistan where any kind of research in social sciences seemed then to come quite unthinkable.  The first, sociological study sketches an uncompromising picture of the situation in Tajikistan, that is characterised (1) by the overall aggravation of the economic situation, driving the young active population to durable emigration; (2) by the growing discredit of the country’s political authorities as well as of the international organisations that support them since the launching of the anti-terrorist coalition in 2001 (Saodat Olimova, “Sotsial’nyi kontekts: otchuzhdenie [The social Context: Alienation],” 93-107).  In the following study, a militant of a non-registered opposition party evokes the recent increase of criminality in Tajikistan, with figures to prove it; he parallels this phenomenon with the evolution of the pyramid of incomes in this country (Shokirdzhon Khakimov, “Sotsial’no-ekonomicheskie vozmozhnosti molodezhi Tadzhikistana [The Economic and Social Opportunities of the Tajikistani Youth],” 108-21, tab.  An authoritative political adviser—and since August 2006 the official leader—of the Party of the Islamic Revival of Tajikistan deals with the impact of the lack of prestige of Hanafi ‘umala on the emergence of alternative radical movements originating from the Near and Middle East (Mukhiddin Kabiri, “Islamskii radikalizm: factory vozniknoveniia [Islamic Radicalism: The Factors of Its Appearance],” 122-9.  This author is followed by an expert of security matters of the PIR who insists on the relevance of the Afghan denominator and on the connections of varied guerrillas (from Chechnya to Uzbekistan) with international Islamist organisations until recently involved in the Afghan conflicts (Sulton Khamadov, “Mezhdunarodnyi kontekst—afganskii factor [The International Context: the Afghan Factor],” 130-50.  A last contribution, by an expert of the Institute of Strategic Affairs near the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, insists on the primacy of national or ethnic conflicts in Central Asia, occasionally veiled by the consensus of Islamist organisations (Komiob Dzhalilov, “Faktory rosta ekstremizma: regional’nyi kontekst [The Factors of the Growth of Extremism: the regional Context],” 151-62.

There is still a third part with shorter theoretical contributions on the means for preventing the emergence of extremism in the fields of religious education and of the freedom of the press—with moderate recommendations very different from the more aggressive stance of many publications regarding Islamist militancy in Central Asia.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-8.4.A-720