Jihad Jitters in Tajikistan

Jihad Jitters in Tajikistan

Sightings of Tajiks among Islamist rebel fighters in Syria have created a new security headache for the government in Dushanbe.

Officials say there are about 200 Tajikistan nationals in Syria. The group recruiting most foreigners is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. 

The head of the opposition Islamic Rebirth Party, Muhiddin Kabiri, warns that jihadi fighters returning from Syria could pose a significant security threat to Tajikistan.

“Young people here have very one-sided, incorrect ideas about Islamic values, including jihad,” he continued.

Like many other commentators in this Central Asian state, Kabiri believes people are susceptible to radicalisation because of the lack of normal employment prospects for them in a moribund economy.

“They are protesting against everything, and they think that if things haven’t worked out for them in this life, they can secure a decent life in the next world,” he explained.
“If the government could provide them with a decent life and stop them becoming ‘military gastarbeiters’, it would be possible to save an awful lot of them.”

Religious affairs expert Faridun Khodizoda says many young men are drawn into Islamic extremist groups while they are away from home, working as migrant labourers in Russia.  

Mehrangez Tursunzoda is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan. 

This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.  

Tajikistan, Syria
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