Political Islam in Central Asia is currently undergoing a transitional phase. Radical groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Hizb ut-Tahrir no longer monopolize the Islamist scene. There is now a new generation of Islamist leaders in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan that advocate a public role for Islam without seeking regime change. They can be called Islamo-democrats because they participate in elections and recognize the constitutional process. The presentation will examine and compare the biography, political career, and beliefs of three representatives of this political trend: Tursunbai Bakir Uulu, Bekbolat Tleukhan, and Mohiddin Kabiri. It will claim that the emergence of Islamo-democrats is partly the result of developments in Turkey, especially the rise to power of the Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi. Two factors account for the Turkish influence in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan: the successful diffusion of ideological norms and the importance that governments attach to maintaining good relations with Turkey.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Emmanuel Karagiannis is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Defence Studies of King’s College London. He is also an Adjunct Scholar at the West Point Military Academy’s Modern War Institute and a Research Affiliate of the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. He was educated in the United Kingdom (Hull University, Reading, London South Bank) and the United States (University of Pennsylvania). He held research positions in prestigious US universities (Yale University, Columbia University, Princeton University). He is the author of Political Islam in Central Asia (Routledge, 2010). He has lived and worked for extensive periods in the former Soviet Union, the Balkans and the Middle East.