IWPR Central Asia: Conference «Religious radicalization in Central Asia: Myths and Realities”
On December 7-8, 2015, Representative Offices of the IWPR in Central Asia held a regional conference on “Religious radicalization in Central Asia: Myths and Realities.”
This conference was a fruitful discussion platform for 125 representatives of relevant government agencies, international organizations, leading experts and media representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to discuss the most pressing issues of religious radicalism in the region and to make recommendations aimed at countering this process.
The following topics have been discussed during the conference:
· «Radicalization” of Islam in Central Asia: myths and reality.
· Secularism and radicalism in Central Asia.
· Central Asia as a source of human resources in extremist and terrorist organizations.
· Cooperation in the field of security in Central Asia: the role of regional and international organizations and civil society.
· The impact of the media in shaping public opinion on the religious situation in Central Asia.
In his welcome speech, Abakhon Sultonnazarov, regional director of IWPR in Central Asia, spoke about the goals and objectives of the conference: “There is a good reason why we decided to concentrate on that. The analysis of the problem of “radicalization” in Central Asia has been a priority for our organization over the past two years. Organizing such platforms, educational activities for young people and working with journalists, the IWPR in Central Asia is trying to contribute to combating religious extremism.
Now, based on the collected data, recommendations and proposals, we are ready to analyze and draw conclusions on how this problem is identical and, at the same time, different in Central Asian countries, to understand how to improve the situation in this area. In my opinion, open discussion, especially with the participation of a large number of experts from virtually all countries in the region, is the best format to work on such an important topic”.
Then Orozbek Moldaliev, director of the State Commission for Religious Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, welcomed the participants of the conference and spoke about the measures taken by the Kyrgyz Republic, aimed at preventing radicalization in the country.
“Kyrgyzstan is determined to confront the radical ideas of young people through education and training of religious leaders. Our neighbors prohibit everything and advise us to do so, but the ideology will not disappear after the prohibition. Ideology is in the minds of these people, and we need to explain that it is a wrong ideology, that real Islam is different. We need to be patient and take actions, using right methods. We have excellent educators. They are few, but they are there, and we must involve and support them”, said the director of SCRA KR Orozbek Moldaliev.
Moldaliev added that secular education is the prerequisite for the strategy of education and training of religious leaders and students.
Session 1. “Radicalization” of Islam in Central Asia: myths and reality. Secularism and radicalism in Central Asia
During the first session of the conference, the experts tried to answer the question, whether there is radicalization in Central Asia, as the recent events have shown that the word or the term “radicalization” is automatically associated with religion, in most cases with Islam.
In addition, the participants touched another important topic during the discussion – manifestation of the so-called secular “radicalism” in Central Asian countries. Governments in Central Asia were faced with the need to take measures to prevent extremist influence, including through tightening of legislation in the sphere of religion, thus provoking people to radicalization.
The first speaker in this session was Yulia Denisenko, director of the “Association of centers of religious studies” (Kazakhstan). In her speech, she said about the government’s policy to combat religious extremism and terrorism in the Republic of Kazakhstan: “In 2013, on behalf of the Head of the State, there was developed and adopted the State Program on combating religious extremism and terrorism. The document has a set of organizational, informational, and other special measures aimed at addressing the issue of extremism. An important element of inter-confessional consent and secularism in a society is awareness-raising activities.
Before 2013, the lack of systematic work in the information work in the religious sphere had been obvious. The outreach work had a situational character. Currently, the total information work in the religious sphere has gained contours of a unified system; there is coordination and planning, supported by proper finance and methods. The planning approach is used in conducting training seminars for employees of the departments for religious affairs, specialists of municipal government agencies under the departments for religious affairs and members of the regional IRAs.
We can say that the overall situation has improved, thanks to the combination of force, special prevention and general awareness-raising measures taken by state bodies”.
Yulia Denisenko noted that since 2011, the development of public policy in the religious sphere has been influenced by external factors, global trends in the development of the situation in the world: “In 2014, the development of the religious situation in the country, in our opinion, was greatly influenced by the situation related to the activation of so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” – ISIL – it was the most dangerous conflict-causing and separation factor. Today, the government has an important task – to prevent the further spread of radical ideas, veiled by religious slogans. The solution to this problem, of course, will be based on the systematic combination of all available resources and opportunities”.
“Based on my professional experience, I can safely say that the main weapon in combating violent extremism is social projects”, says Yulia Denisenko – “It is necessary to consolidate the efforts of the government and civil society, especially taking into account the fact that we have something to share with each other. The Association of Centers of religious studies, which I have the honor to lead, has now 21 NGOs, each of which is struggling for the “souls” of our citizens”.
Only during the last three years, about 8000 people turned to us; they had serious problems because of the intervention of pseudo-religious groups into their lives. The bulk of the complaints were associated with extremist organizations.
In 2013, thanks to the support of the Committee for Religious Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, there was opened an ICC “Hotline 114” for counseling and receiving information from individuals and organizations on all matters relating to the religious sphere, as well as providing psychological assistance to victims of destructive religious activities. The opening of this hot line is the first initiative of its kind not only in Kazakhstan but also in the CIS. Counseling is conducted privately by professional lawyers, theologians, religious studies specialists and psychologists. Calls from anywhere in Kazakhstan are accepted free of charge.
More than 80 people turned for help in rehabilitation. 90% of them are parents, whose children have succumbed to the propaganda of terrorism “, concluded Yulia Denisenko.
The next speaker Jamal Frontbek kyzy, chairman of the Women’s Progressive Public Association “Mutakallim” (Kyrgyzstan), spoke about the potential and opportunities of Muslim women in the prevention of manifestations of violent extremism in the region, on the example of the Central Asian Women’s Forum, whose goal was to strengthen the cooperation between women’s Muslim communities of Central Asian countries and governments to counteract the manifestations of violent extremism and reduce the attractiveness of the ideology of extremism among women, together with experts in the field of religion from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Jamal Frontbek kyzy noted the increase in the number of women supporting the ideas of radical groups. In her opinion, the main reason for women’s involvement in extremist and terrorist organizations is the lack of public awareness and low level of cooperation between public authorities and civil society in the prevention of extremism.
“Islam in Central Asia has always treated the status of woman with respect. Woman had a special place of honor in the education of the younger generation of Muslims. Therefore, the woman has a great potential in prevention of penetration of the ideology of radicalism in the world of the young generation”, said Jamal Frontbek kyzy during her presentation.
Jamal Frontbek kyzy told that within the framework of the Women’s Leadership Forum, there were made recommendations aimed at reducing the symptoms of violent extremism in the region. The forum participants noted that violent extremism could not be defeated only by force. There must be wide-ranging cooperation between government and civil society organizations in combating the ideology of extremism and terrorism. Spiritual boards of Muslims and government bodies dealing with religious affairs in cooperation with civil society activists must intensify the work on prevention and public awareness on issues countering the ideology of violent extremism.
Participants talked about the need for joint legal and social assistance to the families of convicts, as ignorance and isolation of families of those convicted of terrorism and extremism leads to greater radicalization of the family and relatives of the convicts. In addition, it was recommended to open centers of social and psychological assistance at mosques, for children and families of those convicted of extremism and terrorism.
Women activists emphasized the need for the organization of a Central Asian Internet portal “Expert Advisory Centre for support and assistance on the most pressing problems in matters of theology and religious studies”. It was also proposed to develop and open a blog for Muslim women in social networking forums, which will reflect the most pressing issues, and where Muslim women could exchange their experiences and recommendations.
To continue activities in this area, as well as to implement the recommendations, it was decided to form a committee from among the participants of the forum to communicate and address the issues of prevention of violent extremism and radicalism, which will provide a platform for activities involving Muslim women of Central Asian countries.
Parviz Mullojanov, an independent political analyst (Tajikistan), in his report, tried to answer the question of how to assess the reality of the threat of religious radicalism in Central Asia and how likely the Islamist underground in the region would intensify and radicalize its activities.
Parviz Mullojanov identified three determining factors causing religious radicalization in the region: “First and foremost, the determining factor is the rapidly growing social inequality in the region as a whole and in each of the Central Asian states. Against the background of the socio-economic crisis, income inequality generates strong protest, especially among young people.
The second factor, closely related to the previous one, is the specificity of the socio-economic and political model that prevailed in the CIS after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In modern conditions, the main and conflict-prone feature of the system is the reduction of the amount of social mobility for growing populations. It is one of the main factors contributing to the growth of radicalism in society, including among quite successful and educated citizens.
The third important factor influencing the extent and level of radicalization is the shortcomings and errors in the development and implementation of government programs and policies on religions”.
Parviz Mullojanov noted that unfortunately, during the past few years, the authorities of the region, in varying degrees, have been taking a considerable amount of ill-considered actions and steps in this area: “The most important factor of the wrong state policy on religion is the inability of power structures in the region to make a clear distinction between moderate Islamist clerics who agree to build cooperation with the authorities and radicalized fundamentalists who deny any possible compromise with the secular power and support only the violent change of the society. As a result, moderate Islamists are artificially driven into one camp with the radicals, contributing to their forced convergence – in fact, it greatly increases the opportunities of radicals”.
“Most likely, on the contrary, further revival and strengthening of jihadist organizations awaits the region. It is possible that in the future, jihadists, primarily connected with the ISIS, will try to intensify their activities, including in the form of a series of specific acts of terrorism, – said Mulladzhanov. – But the main danger to the stability of the region is not the jihadists, whose number in any case will remain marginal in relation to the vast number of the local Muslim population. The main question is whether the process of growing protest and social tensions and discontent will affect the wider masses of the population in the future”.
“Hence, the leading role in further shaping of the Islamic movement in the region belongs to the authorities themselves, or rather, to the policies they are applying in relation to the religious part of the population. Even more important will be their socio-economic policy – if in the future, the system is not reformed in terms of ensuring a higher level of social justice and equitable access to social elevators, it will create the most favorable conditions for the development of the jihadist threat”, concluded Parviz Mulladzhanov.
Speaking about Islam and related issues in Uzbekistan, a specialist from Tashkent, Farkhod Tolipov, director of the non-governmental educational institution “Bilim Karvoni” (Uzbekistan), said that the wrong approach to understanding the essence of religion in the Soviet Union gave rise to the distorted view of secularism and religiosity of society in post-Soviet Central Asia.
“I think the concept of secularism is not only vulgarized by politicians, ideologists and researchers, but also, in general, it is a pseudo-concept. Religion cannot be separated from the State through simple allocation of a niche of culture, education, worship, etc. for it”, said Farkhod Tolipov.
“We cannot antagonize the secular and religious sides, because they are not comparable to choose between them; They have versatile, split-level properties. Being Muslim (musulmonchilik) is a philosophy of life, ideology, faith, morality, worldview and values. Secularism is a way of life and activity, forms and methods of management, the model of social, legal and political relations. Therefore, the following principle is proposed: “secular in form, Islamic in content”. Secular does not mean atheist. Islamic does not mean theocratic”, added expert Tolipov from Uzbekistan.
Each of the countries of Central Asia has its own experience of understanding and approaches to the issue of radicalization of religion. For example, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are carriers of rather interesting and controversial practices, which at different times, changed either in the direction of easing or in the direction of tightening.
If, since independence, Uzbekistan has an image of a tough fighter against radicalism and total control of the religious life of the population, Tajikistan has demonstrated the possibility of co-governing by secular and Islamic politicians.
During quite a long time, Kyrgyzstan distanced itmself from the religious problems and allowed to freely apply different practices, which could not but contribute to the growth and strengthening of various destructive groups. The government decided to use a systematic approach in addressing religious issues at the highest level, thanks to which the Concept of religious policy was developed. But, as before, Kyrgyzstan has traditionally sought a cautious approach to the fight against radicalism, combining both methods of force and negotiation.
SESSION 2. CENTRAL ASIA AS A SOURCE OF HUMAN RESOURCES IN extremist and terrorist organizations
During this session, experts discussed the role played by the Central Asian countries in this global trend.
In his report, Saifullo Safarov, Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, spoke about the main channels of recruitment and factors for involving young people from Central Asia into the ranks of the ISIS, and its impact on stability and security in Central Asia.
“The main routes of transfer of supporters of the ISIS from the Central Asian states – Egypt, Turkey, Greece and then Syria, – said Saifullo Safarov. – Migrants from Russia are sent to Syria via Turkey, Greece and Egypt; Those recruited in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are brought to Syria mainly by air. Majority of those recruited from the Central Asian states are migrant workers, as well as those who got into radical extremist organizations in their respective countries”.
Saifullo Safarov said that at the present stage, the situation with the involvement of women, family Jihad, especially children and the creation of battle groups of children and paramilitary groups of jihadists and martyrs in the ranks of the ISIS, which are aimed at the physical destruction of people and their families, was the most alarming.
“The active involvement of minors in terrorist and extremist activities also becomes a dangerous trend. This process has gained a wider scale in connection with military actions in Syria and Iraq.
To date, most of the known terrorist groups have their own military training camps for future young terrorists, where children from almost all over the world receive military training. They grow a new generation of criminals who do not know and did not see anything but violence and killing. They are instilled radical ideas, imbued with hatred and a desire to kill, from very young years of life.
According to the UN report, one of the priorities of the terrorist group “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” is the “consolidation” of children as a means to ensure long-term loyalty, commitment to their ideology and their preparation as loyal soldiers, who will see violence as a way of living in this world”.
But even more terrifying factor is the choice of their own parents, who bring their own children to the training camps, posting children’s photos with arms in their hands, thus expanding the promotion of cruelty and violence. Parents of a new generation of young “radicals” on their pages on social networks actively publish photos of their children on the background of the symbols of terrorist groups”, concluded Saifullo Safarov.
Emil Jeenbekov, Head of the department of the 10th Main Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of the Kyrgyz Republic, in his speech, spoke about the measures taken by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to combat extremism and terrorism in the country.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, at the moment, there are between 300 and 500 people, including the elderly, women and children in the areas controlled by terrorist organizations in Syria.
Emil Jeenbekov said that the recruitment to terrorist organizations continues and involves more and more groups – for example, if in 2005, few women supported the ideas of radical groups, today about 25 percent of the extremists are women.
“Among them, there are even women who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of extremist ideology. They are not only members of extremist organizations, supporters of international terrorist organizations, but also of the so-called ISIS (or ISIL) and other dangerous extremist organizations. In Kyrgyzstan, among detected active members of extremist organizations, 7.4% are women. Of all those who left for Syria, women make up 23%”, said Emil Jeenbekov.
Nurlan Alniyazov, orientalist, vice president of the Central Asian House of development (Kazakhstan), in his report, identified two new trends in the development of the Muslim religion in Kazakhstan: first is the integration of religious groups (including extremist) into the power structures. The second is the formation by religious groups of alternative projects of the state and attempts to participate in the political life of the country.
Nurlan Alniyazov noted that one of the main causes of radicalization trends was the lack of Muslim institutions performing the function of the regulator of life of the religious community: “In the religious sphere of Kazakhstan, in particular among the Muslims, the most prevalent is the secular influence. Even the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Kazakhstan does not perform the functions of the religious institution. The reason for this is the excessive desire of the government to control religion, in order to ensure religious harmony of society and to prevent the radicalization of the Muslim population.
In Kazakhstan, like in other Central Asian countries, there are similar formations, but they do not perform their functions. Religion cannot be controlled too much. We understand the desire of the authorities to control such an influential sector. But this leads to self-control of the community as an opposition to the government, or to the chaos that leads to the development of radical tendencies. That is, it disrupts the natural work of institutions. In both cases, it is destructive. Chaos leads to the desire of various political circles, both at home and abroad, to use religion as a tool in their political games”.
Nurlan Alniyazov said: “As Kazakh experts noted, under the ongoing socio-economic crisis, part of the population begins to feel disappointment with the reform efforts of their ethnic elites, who are unable to help people get out of the crisis. And this part of the population turns to Islam, seeing it as a kind of “Islamic alternative” for the future. This alternative is utopian, but, nevertheless, it maintains the illusion of perspective”.
According to the expert, negative trends in the religious field in Kazakhstan are born on the initiative of secular origin. “The Muslim community in Kazakhstan, divided into many communities according to territorial and other criteria, received uncontrollable development. The result is that we are witnessing the growth of extremist ideas and destructive religious groups in the country”.
Nurlan Alniyazov sees the solution of the problem in the revival of traditional Islamic institutions under the adequate control on the part of the government: “First of all, we should make the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Kazakhstan an effective authoritative organization, centrally governing the activities of the entire Muslim community.”
SESSION 3: COOPERATION IN THE FIELD OF SECURITY IN CENTRAL ASIA: THE ROLE OF REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Understanding that this problem cannot be solved by one country or even by countries in one region, organizers of the conference designed a separate session on the role of regional and international organizations and civil society to counter the extremist forces.
Farkhad Tolipov, director of the non-governmental educational institution “Bilim Karvoni” (Uzbekistan), in his report, described the experience of Uzbekistan in the field of international assistance in the field of security.
“When analyzing the role of international organizations in the field of security, experts often use the term” security umbrella”. In order to correctly assess the potential and activities of international organizations, we can consider three types of structures: “figurant”, “provider” and “guarantor of security”.
“Figurant” of security articulates, captures, monitors and discusses security issues. “Provider” of the security is offering assistance, such as short-term projects in this area. Security “Guarantor” provides direct and immediate protective measures against the threat. Activities of international organizations in Uzbekistan contain a combination in different proportions of services of provider and of figurant, but never of guarantor of security services. Central Asians do not have a structure like NATO, so the issue of guarantees is still open”, said Farkhad Tolipov.
In his speech, Farkhad Tolipov touched on the role of civil society, the media and religious organizations for the purpose of prevention.
“On the issue of reducing violent extremism and counter-terrorism, the dialogue between the government and non-government actors has not been established, and it can be deployed simultaneously with the unfolding of a broad democratic dialogue space. That is due to the fact that the democratization and liberalization of social and political life are directly tied to the inevitable and growing activation (as we noted in a policy brief) of religious life, and vice versa, the slowdown in the national dialogue on the role and status of religion in state and society will be reflected in democratic reforms, which again may aggravate the issue of the desired dialogue.
Regarding the role of the media in this area, there is quite contradictory dualistic situation. State-run media, creating information filters and sometimes exaggerating many things, seem to extinguish the confrontational potential hidden in the extremist environment. But the Internet largely elevates information gateways, and is not possible to fully extinguish the “alien and hostile ‘voices heard in a virtual environment. The authorities have already publicly expressed their concern, recognizing that they are much behind many other actors in the international information war.
The expert said the main role in explaining Islam and prevention of radicalism definitely belongs to the mosque: “Today this institute, as never, performs functions in four forms: prayer, cognition, acculturation, and oddly enough, secularization. Firstly, it is a place where people come to pray. The age contingent of parishioners is very wide, from school children to seniors. Secondly, mosques became a kind of library where parishioners can read the Koran and other religious publications. Thirdly, visiting a mosque has become an important part of the culture, traditions and rituals. Fourth, they have become one of the tools of government policy and of secular authorities”, concluded the expert.
Karlygash Nugmanova, director of the Association of Political Studies (Kazakhstan),said that the Central Asian countries lack consolidation of efforts in ensuring security against the threats from radicals.
She expressed the need for more active use of regional integration and international organizations to united the efforts in the fight, to share experiences and methods of combating radicalization.
“If we consider the question of regional security through the prism of the Security Institute of the CSTO, it should be noted that after the last CSTO summit, the presence of the CSTO collective forces in the region will most likely be increased. We are talking about the military component of the organization. This should lead to a balance in addressing the threats to stability. However, to address issues of security in the CSTO member countries, it is not enough to have just one organization to improve the situation. The geopolitical situation in the CIS depends on the processes taking place beyond its borders”, said Karlygash Nugmanova.
The expert added that the aforementioned challenges directly affect the national interests of Kazakhstan and, therefore, determine the prioritization of objectives.
“This is first and foremost the development of closer integration in Eurasia. This is also deepening of partnership relations within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the countries, which are combined into a system called BRICS. SCO and the CSTO will have to focus their attention and effort, and work out all the scenarios of the situation in Afghanistan,in order to prevent the negative consequences associated with the Taliban and DAISH. We need to promote multi-polarity in the world. It is the development of mechanisms of collective response to potential challenges to regional security, including the strengthening of the military component of the CSTO”, concluded Nugmanova.
Zamirbek Mambetjunusov, an employee of the mission of the CIS Antiterrorist Center of the Central Asian region (Kyrgyzstan), in his speech,spoke about the activities of the Antiterrorist Center of the CIS member states, a Centre carrying out coordination and cooperation of the States concerned – the CIS member states – in fighting the threats of international terrorism and the factors influencing on the security situation.
“Certainly one of the important conditions of peace and security of our states is the close cooperation of all government and public institutions to prevent the threat of terrorism and radicalism.
Analysis of the situation that is emerging in Central Asia suggests that in addition to threats that originate from the territory of Afghanistan, due to the presence and activities of various kinds of terrorist groups, countries in the region are faced with a new kind of problems – the revitalization of the various kinds of emissaries of ITEO and their supporters.
Zamirbek Mambetjunusov told that in order to optimize the efficient cooperation in this area within the CIS, the CIS ATC uses the data bank, which was established on the basis of International Information Bank of Main Information and Analysis Center of the Interior Ministry of the RF and is constantly updated, including with the information from the counter-terrorism structures of member countries of the CIS. Currently, the Bank holds information on more than two thousand persons wanted by competent and law enforcement agencies of the Commonwealth for the crimes of terrorism and / or / extremist activities.
In addition, he noted that the heads of the CIS member states approved the Program of cooperation of the states-members of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the fight against terrorism and other violent manifestations of extremism for 2014-2016. This program stressed the need to continue the practice of establishing joint working groups to conduct coordinated search operations against those involved in the activities of terrorist and extremist organizations and illegal armed groups.
“Despite the complexity of the organization of intergovernmental cooperation between law enforcement and border agencies and special services, the work in this direction has a positive dynamics”, said Zamirbek Mambetjunusov in the conclusion.
“Military security and a common defense of the states of Central Asia are currently provided by the general strategic policies and activities of the three major international organizations. NATO, the SCO and the CSTO are organizations that combine considerable strength and capabilities, resources and information about the military situation of the countries”, said in his speech Bakhtiyor Rakhmonov, an independent security expert, former employee of the Security Council under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan. “Tajikistan has representative offices of more than 35 international and regional organizations, representatives of 10 agencies and other institutions and UN agencies. Today, representative offices of more than 60 non-governmental international organizations are registered in the country, which, together with intergovernmental organizations, contribute directly to the development of various spheres of the country. The implementation of regional and international policies in our country takes place in complex, acute and rapidly changing conditions of our planet in the 21st century, the trends and processes of which daily and deeply affect the content of social change in the country and the existence of our people.
Despite the difficulties of an internal character and destructive influence of the events in the region, Tajikistan has a firm stance in the fight against modern threats and dangers, to protect the country from their tragic consequences, to ensure regional stability and security.
Under these conditions, the implementation of mutually beneficial international cooperation in the name of reducing and eliminating today’s threats is the most important area of joint action. Prevention of dangerous effects of another trend of the day, first of all, the “clash of world views”, is also one of the major problems of mankind”, concluded Bakhtiyor Rakhmonov.
The second day (December 8, 2015) was dedicated to master classes for journalists, media experts and university professors about the nuances of covering the issues of radicalization of religion. (More information is available on this link: http://cabar.asia/ru/23-ru-ru/events/events-kg-ru/578-osveshchenie-radikalizma-informirovanie-ili-propaganda)
At the end of the conference, the representatives of state bodies and experts, participants of the event from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan developed recommendations to reduce the threat of radicalism in the region and offered optimal steps for their successful implementation. (More information is available on this link: http://cabar.asia/ru/23-ru-ru/events/events-kg-ru/577-iwpr-central-asia-rekomendatsii-uchastnikov-konferentsii-religioznaya-radikalizatsiya-v-tsa-mify-i-realnost)
Regional Conference “Religious radicalization in Central Asia: myths and reality” was organized by representative offices of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Before holding this event, IWPR’s offices in three countries held discussions on this subject at the country level. During this year, there were also held lectures to educate students on the issues of Islam and radicalism, together with representatives of the clergy and prominent experts.