The role of Islam is growing in the Central Asian region. It is against this background that Uzbekistan’s government has recently liberalized its religious policy. The aforementioned tendencies may lead either to development of new effective ways of interaction between the state and the Muslim community or to a fresh resurgence of religious extremism, RISS expert Semyon Kukol points out in the analytical article of RISS journal “National Strategy Issues”. "Central Asian countries are increasingly facing with the choice of their further development: preservation of the existing secular states or their gradual transformation along the path of rearchaization, increasing the role of religious institutions and integrating them into government systems," he explains.
An alternative direction of integration of the countries and peoples of Central Asia is actually developing on the basis of Islamist trends, Kukol notes. Islam, which dominates in the region, can create a common agenda for the Central Aisa, but at the same time it can involve it in the sphere of influence of external forces: Arabian countries, Turkey, Pakistan, and Western intelligence services that manipulate Islamists. The economic crisis in recent years has made it easier for the state representatives supporting Islamists to access even those Central Asian republics that fight against radicals, RISS expert adds.
Development of religiosity in the Central Asian republics, peculiarities of their socio-economic situation, and the current situation with extremist groups may lead to the fact that the influence of Islam and the activity of radicals in the region will only increase, Kukol underscores. This process will deepen and accelerate when the Soviet influence on the life of Central Asian societies weakens. "The leadership of all Central Asian countries is facing a difficult task of maintaining security and social stability in the conditions of interaction between the secular states and the population that is increasingly turning to Islam," he concludes.