Asia News and Analysis
Path of faith: Andijan massacre a clarion call to Uzbek Muslims
The dust may be settling in Andijan after the recent uprising against Uzbekistan’s brutal, corrupt dictatorship, but the implications of this heroic and tragic episode will haunt the regime until it falls. The blocking of all foreign TV news and internet news sites for more than a week already will not stop the word of the hundreds of innocent deaths, the firing on peaceful demonstrators from a helicopter, the truck full of trigger-happy soldiers which ploughed into the crowd not once but three times, murdering people who could no longer tolerate the vileness of their government and who had no other option. 600 MUSLIMS, murdered by their secular US puppet dictator, who stashes his gold in the Bank of England, whose daughter was caught with a plane full of gold in Moscow, our man who approves of boiling people alive. The writing is on the wall, Mr Karimov.
The uprising was sparked by the imprisonment and show trials of 23 local businessmen accused of adhering to a non-existent terrorist Islamic movement, Akramiya, but who were simply putting into practice the social justice inherent in Islam – giving to the poor, living modestly, praying… A math teacher, Akramjon Yuldashev, the eponymous inspiration of the nonexistent terrorist group (his friends call themselves Birodar (Brotherhood), was imprisoned 7 years ago for doing this and writing a 1992 pamphlet, Yimonga Yul (Path of Faith), which is not political, but moral, arguing for Islamic practices of charity and brotherhood. Yuldashev’s brochure contains no call to seize power violently; a Russian translation by the Andijan-based human rights activist Saidjakhon Zaynabiddinov was posted at centrasia.org/newsA.php4?st=1093410660 on 25 August 2004. While they are accused of being a terrorist cell, their real crime is acting outside of President Karimov’s authority and showing people that there is an alternative to the cutthroat robber baron ‘capitalism’ of post-Soviet Uzbekistan. There is speculation that they were arrested because local rivals resented their success and authorities decided to confiscate their businesses for themselves.
Yuldashev has found a way to provide human dignity to the local population through his homegrown application of Islamic principles of sharing, charity and the embedding of moral principles in all aspects of life, including economic (and one can only hope – political). This requires no foreign consults earning $100,000 tax-free salaries, no NGOs pushing neoclassical economic textbooks and management skills courses, no foreign loans or control of the economy, no importing of crass, commercial, violent, erotic western culture. It promotes trust and collective well being, reducing the need for cutthroat competition, mass unemployment, mass corruption, a huge bureaucracy taking bribes and taxes at every turn, not to mention the swarms of underpaid crude, cocky militia always on the lookout for baksheesh.
Like Chavez’s Bolivarism, or Castro’s socialism, where charismatic leaders have adopted socialism to their own countries, Yuldashev’s modest adoption of Islamic economics could point the way to a truly ‘independent’ path for Uzbekistan, unlike the so-called independent path which K claims the Uzbek people ‘chose’ since the collapse of the SU. This path has been a wreck – impoverishing 80% of the people, creating a vicious westernized elite which acts completely without morals or concern for the people:
*there are no longer any quality controls on food or products;
*even health care is being privatized under the guiding hand of the US;
*contracts or the license to open a business are obtained only through bribes to high officials;
*willful action like the cutting of trees (the country is 90% desert), seizing of public territory, entrapment and blackmailing are everyday occurrences;
**Uzbekistan stands 114th out of 144 in a popular western index of corruption. Everything is solved through bribery and blackmail.
Fighting the beast
I am convinced this morally based self-help system could help peacefully dispose of K’s system – the sclerotic remnants of the Soviet past, which in retrospect actually looks pretty good, but was devoid of spirituality and succumbed to fantasies of western commercialism. K’s Uzbekistan is living off exports of gold and cotton and handouts from the US and Europe. K is not stupid and no doubt realizes he could easily become yesterday’s puppet dictator, and counts on terrorizing the population more and more until… That’s the strange thing about these cruel dictators – they don’t look to the endgame. Like Stalin, Hitler or Franco, they think they are immortal, and they just can’t bring themselves to prepare a successor or concentrate on leaving a positive legacy. But this latest massacre and the lies that K is propagating to try to cover it up (”No women and children were killed. All those killed had rifles in their hands.”) will not be forgotten. K has gone too far and there is finally a resolve in the air to get rid of him.
One ‘weapon’ is to propagate the ideas of Yuldashev (is he even alive?) and continue to press for the lifting of the persecution of ordinary Muslims. K is a cynical secularist, calling the religious prisoners ‘addled by the narcotic of religion’, a blasphemous thing to say to his Muslim nation.
Another deadly weapon – humor – has been used: last year, some brave prankster managed to erect a huge billboard showing K with women’s breasts and his two daughters sucking at his teats. It came down by dawn, but the word spread like wildfire and provide a wonderful moment of catharsis to all. His daughters’ high life style and arbitrary seizing of prosperous businesses have become notorious.
On the ‘militant Islamic’ front there are also efforts being made. It seems, Mr K, your latest courageous and brilliant show of love for your people inspired some of them to issue a fatwah calling for your death (I’ll bet it’s not the first such). But all the rerouting of traffic and tearing down of buildings to expose sniperswww.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav051605a.shtml , and the additional arrests of thousands of citizens who loathe you wouldn’t help in the end. It just increases the hatred of the people and steels their resolve to support all means to rid Uz of its misery.
How ironic this all is. By jumping on this meek math teacher’s initiative to try to improve his community’s welfare and making him a martyr, and then going after his friends too, and finally by ordering a massacre that belongs right up there with Katyn just days after celebrating the 60th anniversary of victory over fascism, K has unwittingly elevated Yuldashev and his social program The Path of Faith to iconic status. At this very minute, someone is reading or passing on his ideas and vowing to eradicate the foul legacy of K. The scale of the tragedy demands that we read and study his ideas, both to judge for ourselves as free people and to honor the hundreds of people murdered trying to defend him.
But this tragedy is much more than this: it is also a call to Uzbek’s Muslims to honor their religion and embrace the social justice of Islam. In the face of devastating poverty and abandoned by the US and Russia, its supposed ‘friends’, there is nowhere else to turn. But it is not such a bad place to find strength.
Could it be that you’ve unwittingly put us on the road to genuine democracy with this tragedy, Mr K? But one that is steeped in the principles of Islam? Bismillahi rahmani rahim.