Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ferghana Valley

Although Tajikistan is in the title, this article really focuses on the whole region of the Ferghana Valley as a center of transnational identity and militant Islamist networks. Central Asia's most densely populated region, it is divided between Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Of particular interest is the note that the peaceful Islamist group Hizb at-Tahrir is strongest in the relatively free environment of that last of these, and that the southern Kyrgyz city of Karasu functions as an unofficial capital for the movement. It is also the site of many illegal border crossings:
"For instance, as witnessed by this author, every five minutes a homemade boat with people unwilling to pass the customs check crosses the border channel. In the opinion of Kammaluddin, the people cross the border illegally to avoid paying bribes to the Uzbek customs officials. One factor is obvious: the border remains transparent and one can transport not only leaflets, but also weapons."

I wonder if it's safe for Westerners to visit Karasu.


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