Kyrgyz authorities are being more realistic about this than their American counterparts. “Kyrgyz Mosques Under Greater Scrutiny As Ties Between Islam, Extremism Emerge,” by Daisy Sindelar for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, January 23:
[…] In Kyrgyzstan, where 85 percent of the population is Muslim, many looked to mosques as a place for reconciliation after the summer violence left a bloody divide between the country’s ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. Special prayer sessions were held in a number of mosques to bring together members of both communities and call for respect and mutual tolerance.
But mosques have also been viewed with suspicion, with some suggesting they’re a breeding ground for extremist groups who may have played a role in the June events and are intent upon further destabilizing the country.
Officials in Bishkek have blamed religious extremists for a recent spate of explosions and other attacks, including a massive bombing that disrupted court proceedings in November and a January 4 firefight that left four law enforcement officers and two alleged militants dead. Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliev said in a statement that “a war has been declared on all of us” and that “evil is wearing the mask of a believer.”
Marat Imankulov, the deputy chairman of the State Committee for National Security, says that the single greatest security threat facing Kyrgyzstan today is religious extremism promoted by organizations like Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose call for a global Islamic caliphate has deeply unnerved governments in Central Asia despite the group’s formal renunciation of violence.
Hizb ut-Tahrir filtered into Kyrgyzstan from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the late 1990s, and is currently banned in Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian states. Imankulov says mosques played a role early on in boosting the group’s influence in the south.
“At the beginning, I remember, most of those who got involved with [Hizb ut-Tahrir] were young Uzbek guys, because they were more religious, they went to mosque, and those extremist organizations went after them,” Imankulov says.
“They would meet up with them at the mosques on the pretext of needing to teach them more about the canons of Islam, and then at night they would gather together at someone’s home to study the Koran and the rules of Islam. And then, like salt and pepper, they would start to sprinkle in extremist dialogue. A lot of people crossed over to extremism in that way.”…
Nearly all religious authorities in the country — including all but the top two members of the Spiritual Board of Kyrgyzstan’s Muslims, the country’s central religious authority — will be subjected to special screenings. Efforts will also be made to establish unified supervision over the Islamic charities and other organizations currently operating in the country.
Perhaps most significantly, the authority of the country’s grand mufti will be scaled back from chairing all three of the country’s top Islamic bodies to just one, the Spiritual Board. The change is meant to diffuse the absolute authority of the grand mufti’s post while ensuring that critical decisions, like the appointment of new imams, are still channeled through a single body….