During a press conference organized in Khojand, Sogdy District Prosecutor Nabidzhon Rahimov revealed that 33 criminal cases have been launched against individuals suspected of participating in the activities of outlawed religious party Hizb ut-Tahrir in the Sogdy district of in the north of Tajikistan.
According to Rahimov, the detained suspects possessed literature calling for the overthrow of constitutional order in Tajikistan and the subsequent establishment of the Caliphate state. (RIA-Novosti, May 19, 2004)
The Hizb ut-Tahrir party was founded in 1953 in Palestine by prominent religious leader and the judge of the Shari’a Court of Appeals of Jerusalem Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani al Falastini (1909-1979). This organization denounces armed methods of struggle and operates primarily by means of propaganda activities aimed at convincing people of its objectives. The party’s ultimate goal is to unite the world’s Muslims into a unified Caliphate.
In Central Asia, Hizb ut-Tahrir activities date back to the mid-1990s. At present the party is active in all of the Central Asian republics with the exception of Turkmenistan. The largest segment of Central Asian members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir are ethnic Uzbeks. This explains why beyond the borders of Uzbekistan, the party mainly operates in regions densely populated by Uzbeks. The Hizb ut-Tahrir is especially active in the Ferghana Valley, which is divided between three states – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Even though governments of all Central Asian republics are engaged in a protracted fight against the Hizb ut-Tahrir, their policies vary significantly. For example, in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the party’s activities are prohibited by a Supreme Court decision. However, Uzbek authorities implement the harshest policy towards the Hizb ut-Tahrir (even though the party is not formally outlawed). In Uzbekistan anyone found in possession of Hizb ut-Tahrir materials is sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison.
In Tajikistan, Hizb ut-Tahrir is particularly active in the Sogdy district (the part of Ferghana Valley located in Tajikistan), where approximately one-third of residents are ethnic Uzbeks. The first proponents of the Hizb ut-Tahrir ideas in Tajikistan were Uzbeks. But the situation is changing as more Tajiks are invited to join the organization.
It should be noted that during the Civil War in Tajikistan the main support base of Islamic radicals was in the mountainous southern districts of Tajikistan.
But the deputy chairman of the Islamic Party of Tajikistan Mukhiddin Kabiri in a conversation with Jamestown, said that northern Tajikistan is increasingly becoming a center of Islamic radicals. It is also noteworthy that in mid-April several members of the previously unknown Islamic radical organization “Bayat” were arrested in the Sogdy district on charges of organizing several terrorist acts, including the murder of a local Baptist pastor.
Another fact worth noting is that three Tajiks, who fought on the side of the Taliban in Afghanistan and who were later arrested by the American military, were natives of the northern Tajikistan. (see EDM for May 3, 2004).