Oleg Sidorov, Ph.D. (Political Science), analyst at the Central Asian Foundation for the Development of Democracy (Almaty, Kazakhstan)

We have to admit that the counterterrorist strategy the world has accepted as the dominant one turned out to be counterproductive in at least two respects: it relies too much on the use of force and mars relations with the Islamic world: The clash of civilizations that so far remains a much discussed theoretical issue may turn into an unwelcome reality. This fully applies to the Central Asian countries, which, after the Soviet Unions demise, have been living through a renaissance of certain religious teachings. All sorts of public associations are exhibiting an obvious bias toward religion and the spiritual factor to the extent that the neighboring Soviet successor states and the West developed a deep concern over the spread of so-called Islamic fundamentalism commonly believed to be generated by the Islamic world, which, according to a widespread Western opinion, regards Central Asia as part of its religious territory to be drawn closer and engulfed.

Early in the 1990s, the newly independent states experienced an upsurge of national self-awareness inevitably accompanied by a similarly active religious factor. The region was acquiring new mosques and madrasahs at a fast pace and accommodated a flow of Muslim clerics from abroad. This objective process brought the latent threat of Islamic fundamentalism augmented by the closeness of Afghanistan and Iran, as well as by Wahhabi emissaries and organizations that operated on..

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