Defining Radicalism in Kazakstan
|Publisher||Institute for War and Peace Reporting|
|Publication Date||8 December 2011|
|Cite as||Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Defining Radicalism in Kazakstan, 8 December 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ee74fa12.html [accessed 23 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
A recent discussion event held in Kostanai in the north of Kazakstan focused on religious groups that are viewed as a danger to society or harmful to their members.
Islamic extremist groups and others in Kazakstan are often lumped together as "destructive totalitarian sects", a term which some speakers at the event felt was unhelpful even if certain religious communities do recruit new members in predatory ways.
Yulia Denisenko heads a help centre for "victims of destructive sects" in Kostanai, providing support for people who want to leave a religious group. The centre works closely with government, and has been replicated in 17 other locations across Kazakstan since it was set up several years ago.
Yerkin Abil, professor of history at Kostanai's teacher training institute, agreed with others that it is misleading for faith groups to conduct charitable activities and fail to disclose their identity to beneficiaries.
But he warned against stigmatising faith groups that had no record of exerting a harmful influence. Government persecution of members of such groups was liable to radicalise them rather than curb extremism, he said.
Another participant in the meeting, psychologist Yulia Kalyuzhnaya, noted how the term "Wahhabi" was used indiscriminately as a derogatory term for anyone viewed as an Islamic fundamentalist, as a security threat, or just as a Muslim who chooses not to practice the faith within state-sanctioned Islamic institutions.
This audio programme, in Russian, went out on Radio KN, a station in the Kostanai region of northern Kazakstan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.