Monday, September 28, 2009

Tablighi Jama'at in Tajikistan

I'm used to reading about Central Asian crackdowns on Hizb ut-Tahrir, but now Tajikistan is going after Tablighi Jama'at. Here's the case:
"An official from the interior ministry who asked not to be named told IWPR that Tablighi Jamaat did represent a real danger, although he did not offer evidence that members were involved in subversive activity within Tajikistan, apart from distributing Islamist pamphlets.

"'They’re extremists,' he said. 'Tablighi Jamaat wants to create an Islamic state. The movement is banned by the justice ministry, and the ban is there because they’re dangerous. They’ve studied illegally in Pakistan, and since they were there illegally, it’s more than likely they received training in terrorist camps.'

"On the group’s general aims, he said, 'They have dangerous plans. There’s intelligence information implicating Tablighi Jamaat members in acts of terrorism in India and Pakistan. In addition, supporters of the movement who have been detained in Dushanbe have been found to be in possession of propaganda leaflets and religious literature.'

The focus here is clearly on the group's ideology, despite some vague references to some members possibly being involved in terrorist activity in other countries and a credible assertion that it serves as a gateway to more militant organizations and networks. This also fits Tajikistan's pattern of trying to bring non-governmental religious organizations under control.

What does make the TJ case somewhat interesting is the idea, mentioned later in the article, that its loose organizational structure leads to recruitment of radical militants who try to take control of local branches. Most of what I know about this group comes from Dale Eickelman and James Piscatori's Muslim Politics, where it was an example of transnationalism and an example of the ways in which transnational groups often become localized. The people allegedly radicalizing the group in Tajikistan are coming from Pakistan and Afghanistan, though, which seems to put a new spin on the "localization" theme.

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