16.08.2010

Under the Threshold of XXIst Century

Alisher DARKENBAEV, Centrasia.ru, August 2

Life is a paradoxical thing. For instance, take the news watching and paper reading – the same information is repeated more or less each day. An act of terrorism in the Middle East. Warfare in Afghanistan. The recession. The Israel-Palestine strife. A corruption scandal in Italy. A sex scandal in Germany. A strike in France. A programmed speech of the Russian leader. The European Parliament Session. The China Communist Party Plenum. And yes, almost forgot – the Cuban people’s next epiphany of Fidel Castro. The picture is quite familiar and differing to the slightest of the yesterday’s or the day before yesterday’s one, even as far as the nuances are concerned. As a matter of fact, it differs very little from the one that we observed 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and, at the end of the day, of the one of half century and a century ago (it’s just that there was no TV back then). But after all, it’s the year 2010 we’re living in, the 10th year of the XXIst century. Remember, about 15-20 years ago the futurologists’ prognosis and the science fiction were quite in vogue. I can’t recall for sure what was planned back then for our times, but it was about something like inventing a medicine to treat all diseases, stopping all war and violence, creating a society of total prosperity, studying the Solar System planets, giving up the internal combustion engine, etc. So here we are, in the future, so what?

2010 08 16It is either the human nature, or the development of our civilization locked up and restarted the circle, but we are way too stuck in one place. It is not visible from the outside, but if we dig a little, it is visible and one could cry for the shame of it.

No need to go far away from our own homeland. The depredatory utilization of the natural resources, the social inequality, the irrational acts of the powerful ones… And lately, such words like “quranites”, “salaphites”, “vakhabites”, “jihad”, “religious extremism”, and such like appear more and more frequently in news headlines. There are disputes about wearing headscarves in educational institutions. Bearded mad-eyed men in the streets. Where did these come from? And it is coming from and not returning that it is all about, because the Kazakh tradition never involved religious dogmatism and fanaticism, it is indeed a newly emerged thing, and it emerged recently.

Remember how the criminal news sounded before? A thug was caught, a theft was investigated, a road patrol officer was caught taking bribe. And now? A national security employee was arrested for trafficking in drugs, a financial police officer was imprisoned for extortion; a customs worker was arrested for bribe-taking. Only the former BTA Bank owner continues featuring in the nowadays’ criminal news just as he did in the old ones, without any changes. Let us take the headlines of this summer only. Convicts, members of a radical Islam jail sect have escaped from the Mangistay correctional institution. The imam of the local mosque in Karaganda was convicted for manhandling his wife. In the Akmolin region were arrested and sentenced a couple of men (note that they were of Slavic origin) for distribution of literature calling for the jihad against the Kaffirs and containing instructions on how to make explosives. There were several cases of detainment, in the territory of Kazakhstan, of some Chechen fighters who took some “R&R” after warring against the federals. And here's a recent case: in June, in Almaty, there were 29 foreign citizens detained who were most wanted on international level for committing grave and very grave crimes in the territory of the neighboring Uzbekistan, namely – terrorism, murder, creation of and participation in religious extremist, separatist, fundamentalist, or other prohibited organizations, the organization of and participation at criminal communities, and other crimes.

Uzbekistan has long left Kazakhstan behind in such a dubious domain like the activity of religious extremism. Let us recall the facts. In February 1999, as a result of several acts of terrorism in Tashkent, 16 died and over a 100 were injured. In the spring of 2004, a series of explosions happened in Tashkent and in Bukhara region: 46 dead, 35 injured. In July, same year, new terrorist acts break out in the Uzbek capital – next to the US and Israel embassies, and at the gates of the General Prosecutor's office, yielding 3 dead and 8 injured. In 2005 the Andijan rebellion took place, starting with the fighters taking over the prison where those convicted for extremist activity were detained. In the spring of 2009 the power structures in Khanabad was attacked, and an explosion was set up in Andijhan. In July 2009 the chief Imam-Khatib of Tashkent was attacked as he proclaimed himself against the extremists. The imam has survived by miracle after several knife stabs, and his assistant died. In August of the same year Asadov, an Interns officer who was in charge of the imam’s case investigation, was shot dead...

The interesting thing is that almost all the observers, as they condemned the terrorist acts and made their condolences about the victims, did not linger in throwing some rocks at the Tashkent totalitarian police-ridden regime, against which «the people expresses their protest in such way». One may not be so in love Islam Karimov, and to be honest, he is not a very lovable person, but no one should forged that it is him who maintains stability and secularity in Uzbekistan (and in the entire Central Asia, in many respects) with an iron hand, being the ruler of an overpopulated state with low life quality and ancient religious traditions…

It is easy to blame someone to be a totalitarian person while sitting in cozy offices in Hague and Brussels, and reading professionally written declarations about human rights abuse and persecution for religious reasons. It is easy to split the world into “good” and “bad”, especially as the modern Western geopolitics formed in the years of the cold war, was firstly parting the world into democrats and communists, then democrats and dictators, and now it's democrats, dictators, and terrorists. Again, I do not intend to praise Saddam or the Taliban, but the “democratization” of Iraq and Afghanistan led, among others, to interminable hostilities, millions of victims and refugees, bloody religious conflicts, and has simplified the drugs traffic to «the winner countries» along the way. Seems like no one is against an Islamic party winning the elections, but what to do if this party (movement) acts for the destructions of the “unfaithful” by all available means and in other places that their homeland territory as well? How to determine where is the limit where the democracy ends and the counteraction of terrorism starts? Do we have to protect the human rights, if this specific human includes the power to kill and rape in the list of their “abused” rights?

This matter, incidentally, turned out to be very topical in Kazakhstan. Let us take the already mentioned story with several dozens of arrested Kazakhstan nationals.

Here is a little of prehistory. Since January 1 of this year, a new law On Refugees has come into effect, under which the sole authority entitled to attribute the status of refugee became the Immigration Committee by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population, and its territorial branches. Prior to the adoption of this law, this matter was more of a job for the regional representation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. And after the law was adopted, a political fight has begun. The international organizations and media got showered with collective letters with requests about not letting the State authorities of Kazakhstan taking over the refugee cases and to insure immediately their relocation from Kazakhstan to Europe, US and Canada. Moreover, the representation employees were bombarded with anonymous phone calls with threats, unless the “human rights defenders start fulfilling their obligations stat”. One of the callers even promised to come and blow herself up, and take the High Commissioner’s representation office with her, unless her refugee husband is not freed as soon as possible. The UN officers have at once tightened their security and applied to the law enforcement authorities. And then, lots of interested details started coming to light.

Among the signatories of that very application about the Kazakhstani authorities’ involvement in the refugee status assignment being totally inadmissible, turned out to be Abduazimhuzha Yakubov, Ravshan Turaev, and Alisher Khashimov. Last August, these three “refugees” tracked down and murdered Khassan Asadov, head of anti-terrorist department of the Ministry of Interns of Uzbekistan, and did so in an atrocious way, moreover, under the eyes of his wife and small children. Question arose to be asked to many other “signatories”, whose names were found in the lists of radical extremist groups' members involved in terrorist acts in the neighboring republic...

At that, in their applications to receive the refugee status and to move to Europe all the aforesaid persons referred to the fact that they did not break any laws in their home country but were compelled to run from the State that prosecuted them for doing the namaz. By the way, there are over 20 million Muslims living in Uzbekistan, and none of them complained about prosecution for religion and no one tried to escape to Europe. So, what is the difference between these adorable fugitives and the regular Muslim population? Why no one paid attention that the choir of the refugees’ rights defenders, accompanied by all sorts of public men, was jointed by the “Imarat Caucasus”, a well-known terrorist community that published materials to support the Uzbek brothers on their web site, Caucasus Center?

One of the refugees, Dilbek Karimov, when asked about his nationality, explained to the ignorant that “there only are two nationalities in the world – the Muslims and the Kaffirs”. From the viewpoint of the Islamic theology, such a statement is characteristic for the followers of the so-called Takfir. The Takfir is the declaration of persons or entire groups as non-Muslims, which automatically deprives them of the inviolability of life and property, and makes them subject to sanctions up to murder. At that, the killing of the “unfaithful” must be systematic and organized, as the Takfir followers affirm, in the form of jihad. And here it becomes clear why the fugitives did not choose Saudi Arabia as their target, because it is a country known for an extremely intolerant attitude towards the Takfir followers, as the declaration of a person as unfaithful is a very-very responsible act. Such decision can only be made only on the basis of court verdict by approved scientist Sheikhs after a thorough and exhaustive examination rather than on the basis of personal decision. As for the West, it did not — not until recently, at least — ever try to go deep in the differences between the various sides of Islam, often believing that the Shiites and Sunnites are national groups rather than religious ones.

The officers of international organizations, especially those working in such domains, are unusual persons, humane and trusting; it can be even said that they are humanists doing very hard work by helping people ended up in difficult situations. And they are educated in the spirit of the modern humanitarian concepts. They have of course read about totalitarian Asian regimes, about persecution, about fighting the opposition, about ethnic purges; so helping the victims of tyranny is their direct obligations as of officers and humans. And even if they do have access to the databases of CIA, FBI, FSB, KNB or SNBU, their liberal thinking keeps them from trusting the special services. As a matter of fact, if the UNO or EU people want it, they are totally entitled to have anyone with any status whatsoever immigrating to their territory. UK, for instance, just loves giving political asylum to all and sundry, from Berezovsky to Zakaev, and nobody can do a thing about it. The stronghold of Western liberal democracy — the US – have also been very fond of humanitarian missions all over the world and saving the poor and miserable, until several hijacked Boeings changed their attitude towards the terrorist problem and the national security. Let me say it again – they are totally entitled, until the «liberal values» come to a rough contradiction with their own citizens’ right to live.

Very recently, a major terrorist act was prevented by pure miracle in Oslo. It was organized by several Al Qaeda members who came to Norway as none other but refugees who left their countries for political and religious motives. Moreover, one of the arrested turned out to be a native of Uzbekistan who came to Oslo in 2002 under the UNO program for the reunion of Kazakhstani families, and was about to receive Norwegian citizenship. A coincidence or a pattern? Why, due to the trustfulness of international organizations, the West now takes up a literally uncontrollable flow of immigrants who are not checked by anybody for appurtenance to terrorist, extremist organizations, drug mafia, criminal communities? Maybe, Kazakhstan, Russia or Uzbekistan should start offering political asylum to the IRA, ETA, Hamas, or Al-Qaeda fighers as to refugees for political and religious reasons. Only I'm afraid, the US and the EU will be unable to appreciate the whole irony of it... The newswires have just announced that the European Court for Human Rights forbid the Russian authorities to extradite Abdumutallib Karimov, an Uzbekistani national, suspected of terrorist in his home country, and decreed for him to be paid 13 thousand euro as compensation. Of course, maybe he and some other “saved” by the law rights defenders are peaceful civilians and victims of tyranny, but there is no guarantee that the next following refugee will not buy some explosives with these 13 thousand and will not blow him- or herself up in the building of the European court, an American embassy, a Spanish subway station, or a residential building? Of course, Europe knows better...

And those who are physically located at the edge of civilizations, so to say, do actually get to see and hear every day the things that are not broadcasted by liberal channels and radio stations, in cases when one has to make a distinction between a migrant worker who came in order to survive and provide for his family, and the murderer and terrorist hiding under this mask, between a friendly Diaspora of hard working citizen and a sect. But look here, the very structure and functioning of such “communities” is very peculiar and impossible to oversee when looked at attentively. There is a sheikh leading the group, to which several leaders of refugee groups are reporting, whereas these groups are divided by ethnicity, religious training level, family status. All the subgroups are strictly isolated from each other and controlled by their curator. At that, the communication between groups is permitted only at weekly religious classes. The community members are ordered to hide carefully their views from the people around them, and the “activists” who did business and communicated with the exterior medium, were supposed to shave off their beards and look positively worldly. The refugee compatriots applying for help to the community were given access only if they observed the Islam rules as these were interpreted by the sheikh…

For instance, here is quite an illustrative example that was staged in no other place but the Kazakhstan capital. In 2007—2008 another guest worker party came to Astana. They did well, so their compatriots started pouring into the capital as well. But only those who did the prayers five times a day and were ready to obey in all respects the group leader, called amir or sheikh, were admitted to the crews. The sheikhs have explained clearly that the workers had to be careful, to hide their true beliefs, to blend in the general mass of believers, and if the “builder” is arrested by the law enforcement, he has to tell them a sob story about prosecutions and life being hard in Uzbekistan. The good thing for them was that some Kazakhstani officers love to hear stories about how bad it is in Tashkent and how good it is here… But what did really happen? There were cases when those who refused to do the prayers or missed them were beaten hard and even stabbed at the amir’s instructions. No wonder that some workers ran off back home, being unable to resist the wonders of common life with the “pious mentors”. It is well known about the end of the Astana story. A part of the crew members subsequently went south and participated, within the gang, in the well-publicized terrorist acts in the Uzbek cities of Khanabad and Andizhan in May 2009. One of them, Kamal Matkasimov, a fervent jihad adept, blew himself up…

The interesting thing is that this “guest workers group” was build based on the same principle that the “refugees group”, which all this noise is going on about in Almaty right now. As a matter of fact, it shows the signs of not so much a sect than an organized criminal grouping…

The paradoxical thing is that we must be grateful that the extremists from the southern borders see Kazakhstan as a country where money can be made and from where, via the regional representation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, they can make their way to Europe, as there is need for labor, the attitude towards the refugees has been liberal until recently, and it is always possible to “make a deal” with the district police officer or with the immigration service officer. As we got too fond of Western democratic legislative norms and convention, our “multidirectional” politics and our religious tolerance by opening the country to literally no matter who, we have created in our midst a favorable environment for dozens of sects, communities, groups to emerge, who live under their own laws and strongly believe in their own exceptionality, and believe that they know truth unavailable to other people, common people, in their contempt towards the community, which will sooner or later transform into contempt towards the other's rights to life and individual freedom...

As recently as a couple of days ago, a horrendous crime was investigated in Almaty region – the murders of a police major and his lady friend, whose throats were cut… The investigation showed that the police officer had participated in his time at the discovery of the cruel murders of several local residents. Back then, the murderer was caught and convicted. As shown by the investigation, the major and the girl were killed by the convict’s friends, members of one of the small aggressive religious sects (who, incidentally, were ethnic Kazakhs). TNT blocks with detonators were found in the apartment of one of them. It is yet unknown what they were preparing for and whom these explosives were meant for. But there are lately more and more episodes when, as extremist literature is sequestrated, the law enforcement officers keep on finding weapons, large amounts of money, explosive devices, drugs… And it is not about ethnicity, as the religious extremism has a global nature, therefore the Chechen, Uzbek or Afghan fighters will always find a common language with their “colleagues” rather than with their peaceful compatriots…

And here the sci-fi writers and futurists come to mind again, with a couple of (not so) kind words to say to their credit. Take, for instance, Kubrick's “2001: A Space Odyssey”, where the evolution from ape to Jupiter expedition is metaphorically shown. And what we have in reality is inspiring joyless thoughts: the man has discovered nuclear energy and invented the computer, but it ended up in nuclear weapons and porn sites, while the religions created thousands of years ago and laying at the basis of the modern political thinking, are still offered thousands of human victims in sacrifice…

5 comments

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