The danger of DAESH in Central Asia

TRT World reporter Andrew Hopkins speaks to Kadyr Malikov, a Kyrgyz academic who has spoken out regularly against DAESH but also thinks his government's policies on tackling radicalisation need to change.

Photo by: TRT World
Photo by: TRT World

A screencap from TRT World footage showing a building damaged by clashes.

Kadyr Malikov is an academic in Kyrgyzistan who's regularly spoken out against the DAESH terrorist organisation and acted as an adviser to the Kyrgyz Government.

For these reasons he became a target and was stabbed in the head by people suspected of links to DAESH.

But he does not always speak completely in support of his country's leaders, and believes they are currently taking the wrong approach.

He told TRT World he believed the Kyrgyz Government was putting too much emphasis on controlling mosques and not tackling the causes of people joining groups like DAESH.

Kadyr Malikov in hospital after the attack. (TRT World)

"Now our mosques are controlled by the government and they just speak about how to pray and fasting. But they don't explain about the political models of Islam or understanding jihad for example."

"This is why the brains of youth are filled with extremist ideology outside of mosques. That's my explanation."

He says the main causes are "Social conditions, unemployment, poverty and high levels of corruption. These factors create the conditions for protest, disappointment with the secular value system and mistrust of governmental institutions."

Malikov believes there are about 12,500 foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq from former Soviet states in Central Asia – not only Kyrgyzstan, but also countries such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

And he thinks things will get more dangerous. He himself is constantly accompanied by security personnel after the attack. A man in uniform was with him throughout our interview.

Filming with Kadyr Malikov in the centre of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. (TRT World)

Instability from Kyrgyzstan's border disputes with its neighbours and the presence of DAESH in Afghanistan are making the situation more unstable.

Malikov says: "Unfortunately our political elite is still working along Soviet-atheist lines. Some of our senior officials look at the growth of Islam from the perspective of a fight against terrorism and extremism.

"They see the growth of Islam as an ideological rival. Officials are still under the influence of using only repressive methods of influence. They are fighting against the results but not the causes."

When we spoke to the Kyrgyz Government it insisted it was also trying to tackle the causes of terrorism and was putting resources into socio-economic projects.

It said it was also working to tackle the causes of unrest involving minority Uzbeks in the south of the country.

But Malikov added: "Our government should change its views on the process of Islamisation – to understand how to protect our nation state using alternative Islamic values.

"We have a situation right now like that in Syria before the civil war. In the future we could go that way."

"That's why our government should change its views on the process of Islamisation – to understand how to protect our nation state using alternative Islamic values.

"It's impossible to put a secular system against radical ideologies. It's not working here."

Author: Andrew Hopkins