20 october 2018

Central Asia news

U.S. to fight extremist propaganda among Central Asian migrants

16.11.2017 10:24 msk


The U.S. government is developing a strategy to counter extremism among migrants from Central Asian countries who come to work in Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey, The Wall Street Journal reported on 14 November.

Within the framework of this strategy, it plans to produce reports on Radio Liberty on the subject, "Not in Our Name" in the languages of the people of the Central Asia region. In these programmes, former Islamists, as well as relatives of the deceased Islamists, will tell how badly the participation in military operations abroad affected their life. Moreover, youth discussions will be held on this topic under the programmes.

It also plans to launch a programme to extend assistance to migrants in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. The pilot version of the programme was launched by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2015. Initially, it was attended by 20 migrants, and by now their number has grown to several hundred. As part of the programme, migrants are helped in getting an education, are provided access to credit, and helped in finding work. The experiment showed that migrants receiving help and not feeling lonely did not show a tendency towards extremist ideas.

Until recently, immigrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union did not actively join the ranks of radical Islamists. But, as experts say, in the past few years, recruiters of the "Islamic State" (the banned terrorist organisation "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," (ISIL), IS or ISIS in English, Daesh in Arabic) have focused on migrants from these countries, working in Russia. As a result, according to the Soufan Group, a consulting organisation, about 8,700 people from the former Soviet republics fought on the side of Islamists in the Middle East in October 2017.

Meanwhile, Uzbekistan native Sayfullo Saipov was charged in the case of the terrorist attack in New York on 31 October.

Studies have shown that residents of Central Asia, not belonging to the poorest class of the population, but residing in disadvantaged areas or belonging to oppressed groups are sent to work in Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey. While earning, they lose contact with relatives, suffer humiliating treatment, face injustice on the part of the authorities and employers. As a result, they become a good target for Islamist propaganda, the newspaper writes.

Authorities are actively fighting radical Islam in Central Asia too. Thus, in Uzbekistan, the government actively promotes Sufism as the "right" version of Islam.

However, it does not work for migrants. It is not uncommon for a migrant returning to his homeland, to be in conflict with his family and the Muslim community because of assimilated radical ideas.

At the same time, Erica Marat, an associate professor at the National Defence University in Washington, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that U.S. authorities should also pay attention to the fight against propaganda of radical Islam in the Central Asia communities in the United States, primarily in New York, New Jersey and Washington. Very little attention to the issue is paid now; even relevant sociological studies have not been carried out. In the summer of 2017, the Department of Homeland Security approved grants of US$10 million to help ethnic communities fighting extremism. However, some experts believe that the administration of Donald Trump is sceptical about the effectiveness of such programmes and is unlikely to let them develop.

Fergana News Agency