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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Paving the path to Jihad : explaining the development of political Islam in post-Soviet central Asia Swanzey, Kimberly R.

Abstract

Despite its relatively secular nature and traditionally non-challenging relationship with the state, Central Asian Islam has nevertheless produced political manifestations in regional opposition groups today. Why has this happened? Clearly, the reasons behind this development are multifaceted and complex, involving both internal and external pressures, and it would be overly simplistic to assert that any one factor has acted in isolation. This thesis argues that, both directly and indirectly, state responses to Islamism have created a self-perpetuating cycle in which excessive government controls have created an environment of social frustration that is conducive to the rise of unofficial opposition groups, while simultaneously reducing the states' capacity to oppose the movement. In this context, where there are no moderate authority alternatives and little opportunity to achieve change within existing state structures, Islamism has emerged as the main mobilization of opposition forces, providing an alternative system based on the failures of the state and the symbols of a common and persecuted ideology.

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