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IWPR Central Asia: recommendations of the participants of the regional conference “Religious radicalization in CA: myths and reality”

We would like to introduce for your review recommendations to reduce the threat of radicalism in the region developed by the participants of the Conference 7-8 December 2015.

Having discussed the problem of the growing number of adherents of extremist religious groups – natives of Central Asian region, and having expressed the concern about the quality of preventive work with the population, including through the media, studying the aspects and methods of interaction between civil society and government, recognizing the importance of the media’s role in covering the issues of radicalization of believers and their assistance in solving this problem, the participants of the regional conference, representatives of government agencies, non-governmental and international organizations, mass media of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, made the following recommendations:

For the government bodies of the Republic of KAZAKHSTAN, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan:
  • Implementation of measures to reduce the level of secular extremism against religious organizations;
  • Building the potential of interaction of law enforcement agencies of Central Asian countries in identifying and combating all manifestations of activities of terrorist and extremist organizations;
  • Organization of an exchange of experience on the prevention of extremism and radicalism among the relevant authorities of the countries of Central Asia;
  • Strengthening of the preventive work together with non-governmental and human rights organizations, in order to combat terrorism and extremism in various target audiences;
  • Strengthening of the relationship between the religious community and the law enforcement agencies on the basis of respect for human rights as part of a holistic strategy to combat and prevent the spread of violent extremism;
  • Enhancing of the role of the traditional clergy, supporting the ideas of ​​peace and harmony and promoting educational initiatives to improve the resistance to extremist recruitment;
  • Strengthening of the fight against the spread of extremist and radical ideology among prisoners by isolating the distributors of such ideology, as well as through the cooperation with relevant NGOs;
  • Finding and funding of social initiatives aimed at improving the living conditions of people who could be potential victims of extremists;
  • Development of measures to counter stove-piping and manipulations of information in the field of media and protection of information space of Central Asia against the spread of extremist information and network aggression aimed at the involvement of users in a discussion on religious themes.
  • Awakening of the sense of civic responsibility among recipients, facilitatating their interaction with civil society, public institutions and the government in the field of prevention of extremism and terrorism;
  • Strict control of security of educational institutions; prevention of the spread within their territories of extremist religious literature and propaganda of extremist ideas by members of extremist groups and movements;
  • Systematic improvement of the level of qualification of the teaching staff in secondary schools and higher education institutions in the prevention of extremism and terrorism, conducting discussions with students and their parents by attracting qualified professionals, theologians, psychologists and civil society activists;
  • Raising the level of religious tolerance among citizens through educational projects;
  • Improvement of the Concepts of information policy in the countries of Central Asia in the field of combating extremism and terrorism, development of specific mechanisms to implement them, and the role and participation of civil society and the media should be clearly identified,
  • Centralized issuance of brochures and manuals as an aid for specialists, teachers, media workers and others, based on the recommendations of theologians, religious scholars, lawyers and psychologists; enhancing the role and responsibility of the press services of law enforcement and government agencies in the dissemination of such information
  • Assistance to citizens, public and religious organizations in Central Asia in the implementation of the rights and freedoms of religion with the purpose to counter terrorism and extremism;
  • Wider awareness-raising measures among the population, especially among young people about the government programs in the field of youth work – the creation of school clubs, sports clubs, etc .;
  • Conducting of comprehensive research on the needs of young people;
  • Improvement of the quality of the training of migrant workers and of their legal literacy;
  • Creation of a full database to keep records of labor migrants;
  • Work on the creation of regional expertise and common standards for defining the extremist literature.


  • Systematically analyse the legal framework of Central Asian countries in combating extremism and terrorism, in particular the documents, which underwent recent changes, in order to bring it to a single standard;
  • Encourage public authorities to attract extra-budgetary investment for the financing of social projects aimed at de-radicalization of society;
  • Inform the wide public about all possible ways to involve various groups of people in extremist movements;
  • Carry out campaigns and actions to attract public attention to the topic of countering violent extremism;
  • Conduct training sessions, seminars and other events for journalists, representatives of the official clergy, social workers, psychologists and employees of government agencies relating to church-state relations so that they can more efficiently and objectively carry out the work to combat violent extremism;
  • Promote the creation of a journalistic pool, training of reporters, especially in local languages, who can professionally cover religious issues, including in the Internet space, with the constant improvement of their qualifications;
  • Contribute to strengthening the role of civil society, particularly youth and women, in combating and preventing violent extremism;
  • Planning and implementation of programs on cooperation with the youth within the framework of programs of civic education and local initiatives to promote peace and to reduce susceptibility to radicalization and recruitment;
  • Develop initiatives to expand economic opportunities and sources of income for young people susceptible to radicalization (mentoring, access to capital, support for job search and career guidance);
  • Organize meetings of relevant government officials and leaders of women’s and youth movements in the framework of the political dialogue on the development and implementation of inclusive policies to prevent and combat violent extremism among susceptible groups of population;
  • Identify successful models of inclusive policies and their popularization;
  • Activate the efforts of authoritative and popular young professionals, experts, creative individuals, aimed at countering extremist ideology;
  • Create interregional and /or regional platforms for youth leaders working in their communities on the prevention of and the fight against violent extremism (the platform can facilitate the exchange of experiences and best practices among young people and support the efforts to expand their influence in the fight against violent extremism);
  • Support the effort to present religious thought, science and education as an alternative to the ideas and propaganda of religious extremism;
  • Strengthen the cooperation with the private sector in organization of the training of religious leaders on the ways of countering violent extremism on the Internet from their own positions and in accordance with their religious traditions. Such training could include methods for the preparation and distribution of short videos and other media content on the Internet;
  • Contribute to improving the skills of religious leaders in the field of cooperation with youth and information work with the community to prevent and combat religious radicalism;
  • Collect information on various ongoing and planned programs and initiatives aimed at strengthening non-violent religious positions and ensuring wide access to this information.

For International and foreign organizations:

  • Support the activities of government agencies of Central Asian countries to attract investment for additional extra-budgetary funding to combat violent extremism;
  • Encourage and support the efforts of Central Asian countries for the implementation of programs to develop critical thinking of students at all stages of education;
  • Support the efforts of government agencies and civil institutions of Central Asian countries for the prevention of radicalization of youth and the rehabilitation of victims of propaganda by extremist groups;
  • Facilitate the interaction between public authorities, NGOs and the media in Central Asia on joint monitoring and coverage of issues of government-confessional relations;
  • Increase the exchange of experience between the relevant organizations of Central Asian countries in the use of new techniques and advanced scientific and technological achievements to combat extremism and terrorism on the Internet in the profile area, as well as the exchange in thematic information-analytical, organizational-methodological materials. At the same time, the implementation of foreign experience and international legal norms into the practice in Central Asia should not be mechanical in nature – it is important to take into account the local context and make steps that could wittingly or unwittingly provoke the growth of citizens’ involvement in extremist organizations;
  • Promote the development of local research and exchange of information on the factors contributing to violent extremism in all its forms and on the ways to confront such extremism;
  • Provide mentoring for local researchers, as well as financial and / or other kind of support for their efforts;
  • Maintain small multidisciplinary platforms for interaction of researchers in the country – from local universities, civil society organizations, institutions dealing with case studies and government agencies – to identify and fill gaps in the concept of the driving forces of violent extremism in the at-risk communities;
  • Support the creation of an online platform for researchers studying the driving factors of radicalization, which can be used to generate a list of best practices within this narrowly-localized research work, as well as the formation of corresponding datasets about radicalized people, with an available central library or website where these resources would be accessible to communities, governments, think tanks and research institutions;
  • Sponsor interdisciplinary research on why some communities resort to violence when faced with pressure, which forces them to do so; why some communities reject violent extremism; what kind of targeted operational measures could form such a resistance; where there are opportunities for preventing radicalization and recruitment into the ranks of extremists;
  • Develop internal programs created to facilitate the rehabilitation of violent extremists, including those who are in prison – in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2178 – as well as the exchange of lessons learned.
  • Financial support for regional workshops on best practices for the reintegration into society of violent extremists, involving the whole complex of the resources of governments and civil society;
  • Provide technical assistance to governments of Central Asia, which have expressed a desire to develop effective programs for the reintegration of violent extremists in society;
  • Introduction of best practices and lessons learned on the rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremists in society at the national level, as well as of relevant research for regional and global workshops and their further widespread.

For Media and media experts:
  • Create special sections in the media on combating extremism in the following areas: theology, psychology and sociology;
  • Conduct regular and comprehensive information campaign to counter the spread of extremist and radical ideology;
  • Systematic approach to covering the topic of combating radical extremism;
  • Encourage the development of journalism aimed at religious education;
  • Comply with international standards of journalism, the rules of journalistic ethics in covering the issues related to religion, including the theological terminology and translations of texts;
  • Develop a code of ethics and editorial instructions for journalists in editorial offices covering religious themes;
  • Publish materials describing the recommendations on how to withdraw a person from an extremist group, re-socialization to society, creating a friendly environment;
  • Humanize the issues of traditional Islam, giving the audience examples of positive stories of lives of Muslims, showing their role and participation in public life;
  • Promptly provide the public with objective information about extremist organizations, timely and adequately respond to the misinformation, speeches, statements of the leaders of extremist and terrorist organizations, distribution of leaflets and promotional literature, with the involvement of traditional leaders of the clergy and other influential persons;
  • Establish partnership between law enforcement and national security bodies and journalists for effective cooperation to combat the ideology of religious radicalism, hold regular joint meetings and seminars, exchange of views;
  • Organize training for specialized journalists who can cover such topics as Islamophobia, problems of illegal persecution of Muslims, cooperation between law enforcement agencies and civil society, etc.
  • Create a common pool of Central Asian journalists who would specialize in this subject.