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BISHKEK, July 31 (24.kg) - “According to our forecasts, intensification and evident dissemination of Wahhabism ideas is expected in the north of Kyrgyzstan, mainly in Chui province and Bishkek, in the next five years,” Professor of Madrid University Kadyr Malikov, who commented the law “On introduction of visa-free travel for up to 60 days”, told 24.kg news agency.

“Taking into account the ongoing process of finding spiritual guidance by most of the population, the influence of various religious groups, both traditional and innovative will increase in Kyrgyzstan. The influence of religion will gradually cover all aspects of public life from politics and culture to business,” he said.

According to him, referring to a group of local experts who study the problem, the risk is contributed not so much by the presence of Wahhabism (whose adherents often call themselves Salafis), but by a possible increase of conflicts between different religious groups fighting for influence in Kyrgyzstan, and therefore their radicalization in course of time.

“Radical Salafism as a heavy drug, all who got hooked on it are extremely dangerous to society. Taking into consideration the fact that Islam in Kyrgyzstan is traditionally represented by Hanafi legal school, then there are the risks of future ideological and confessional conflicts between the Wahabits (Salafis) and Dawat-Tabligh, and Wahhabis (Salafis) and traditionalists. Religion and Islam in particular will play an important role in society where the government does not have the strength or legitimacy, especially in the transition period, the period of economic and political turmoil. Different religious beliefs can be used by other forces as a catalyst for fomenting the conflict between the secular authorities (law enforcement agencies) and certain groups of believers, and as a means of tension escalation within religious communities,” Mr. Malikov said.

As an example the expert says about the event, established in the long term of protracted conflict in Badakhshan of neighboring Tajikistan. “They (the events) illustrate how the conflict gradually acquire an ethno-religious nature (Shi’a – Sunni,Tajiks - Pamir) with possible involvement of the Afghan Pamir natives in the fighting, as well as interference from other countries,” he says, -“Changing content and contours of religious identification (Christians, Muslim traditionalists, Wahhabis, Sufis, Tengriist believers, Ahmadis and others) will adjust political consequences. And it is a mistake to focus only on the problems of terrorism and counter-terrorism, and underestimate the role of religious leaders and religious communities. As they say, it was necessary to reach a consensus among religious communities and build their own model of harmonious co-existence as far back as yesterday”.

As Kadyr Malikov notes, the Law “On introduction of visa-free travel for up to 60 days” in order to attract direct investment from citizens of countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait may have some risks for Kyrgyzstan except for obvious benefits in the medium term.

“As a rule, today the benefits from the introduction of visa-free travel for Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait outweigh the risks. In addition to direct investments in tourism and services, business development on the basis of Islamic principles of financing, a wide variety of charities and social projects (construction of schools, kindergartens, road maintenance), we can not exclude the possibility of entry of representatives of religious groups with a radical understanding of Wahhabism together with the influx of quite legitimate representatives of these countries,” warns the interlocutor.

“We must keep in mind that Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar is almost a dominant ideology. Except for the fact that moderate and national-oriented Wahhabism has an official status in Saudi Arabia, a variety of clandestine centers exist there as well. The ideology of one of these radical movements, such as “Jamaat Takfir wal-Hijra” (a group that accuses of infidelity) is based on the prosecution of all other Muslims in error, the distortion of Islam or even in disbelief,” Mr. Malikov concludes.

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