Thursday, June 28, 2018

90 Percent of Tajiks Would Like to Live under a Caliphate, New Survey Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 27 – Ninety percent of Tajiks would like to see their country part of and living under a caliphate, according to a poll carried out by the ulema of that country, a reflection of the rapid Islamization of Tajik society as a result of poverty, injustice, and the active promotion of radical Islam by some of the country’s more  than 1500 unregistered mosques.

            Other polls have found similar if smaller percentages of Tajiks backing such ideaas, Nikolay Gritsenko writes on the CentrAsia portal. The OSCE found that a majority of Tajiks favor increasing the role of Islam in public life and “about seven percent” ready to live in a theocratic state” (

                At present, the commentator says, there are about 4,000 registered mosques and “more than 1500 unregistered” ones, most of which are led by imams trained in Iran, Pakistan and Egypt and promoting Jihadist and other radical forms of Islam rather than the more moderate traditional forms.  

                As a result of their activities, Gritsenko continues, “the number of supporters of [radical] organizations in Tajikistan is growing geometrically,” with the country’s interior ministry saying recently that there were now 15,000 Jihadists, 8,000 Salafites, and more than 20,000 supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir.
            These groups are not only leading Tajiks away from their traditions and threatening the civil basis of the state, but they are using their influence to collect money and recruits for terrorist activity both in other countries such as Afghanistan and Uzbekistan and in Tajikistan as well.
            And they are expanding not only because of these efforts but also because of the failure of the Tajik authorities to take them seriously and because of widespread poverty and injustice. “About 70 percent of Tajiks like below the poverty line, more than two million work abroad,” and many feel a spiritual vacuum as a result of market reforms.
            In general, Gritsenko says, “the worse life is, the more rapid Islamization; the more unjust the judges, the more often people go to mosques … [and] the more corruption and bribery abound, the more people seek an ideological alternative in Islam.”  That is what is happening in Tajikistan and other countries as well.
            At present, he concludes, society in Tajikistan “is not offering anything in opposition to religious consciousness. Instead, it is politicizing it.” And that is dangerous not only for Tajikistan but for its neighbors and Russia where so many Tajiks now work as gastarbeiters.

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