The Foreign Policy of the Central Asian Islamic Renaissance Party

February 15, 2000


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Radicalization and Extremism



The Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), Hizb-i Nehzat-i Islami in Persian/Tajik, and Islam Uyghonish Partyasi in Uzbek, is a recent movement with few historical roots. Its members are young and enjoyed little access to the external world during the Soviet period. As soon as it was founded, the IRP was caught in the turmoil of the Soviet Union's demise and the formation of the independent states, which split along national lines a previously pan-Soviet party. Thus the party had little time to conceive and establish a coherent foreign policy. Rather than being recognized as a full member of the Islamic militant world, it relied on personal links with other Islamist groups.

Among the IRP's various branches, only the Tajik one was able to become a major domestic player -- though it lacked the time and opportunity to become a full regional actor. The all-Union Islamic Renaissance Party was founded in Astrakhan (Russia) in June 1990. The head office was registered in Moscow without difficulty. The elected chairman was Ahmed Qadi Akhtayev, an Avar from Daghestan and a physician by profession, and the deputy chairman was Valiahmed Sadur, a Tatar scholar and specialist in Indonesia. The founding fathers were mainly Tatars or from the Northern Caucuses, like Abbas Kebedev (from Kyzil Yurt) and Mohammad Bahuddin, although some Tajiks, like Dawlat Osman, future deputy chairman of the Tajik branch, were also involved. The party had two main publications: Al Wahdat (Unity) in Russian and Hedayat (Guidance) in Persian. While the Russian branch had no difficulty registering, problems and pressures arose for the Central Asian groups. The party was banned from the beginning in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. It was explicitly condemned by the heads of the four muftiyyat (official religious administrations) and by the authorities of the Muslim Soviet republics. Laws were passed in almost all of the Central Asian republics to ban political activities made in the name of Islam.