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Kyrgyz Police Holding Three Muslim Activists

(RFE/RL) BISHKEK, October 25, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz police today confirmed that they have detained nine members of an unregistered Muslim group who yesterday tried to organize a charity event in central Bishkek, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

Bakyt Jumaev, the head of the Bishkek police department in charge of fighting religious extremism, told RFE/RL that six of the detainees had been released.

"No one was arrested," Jumaev said. "We, yesterday, released all the detainees who had proper identification papers and registration documents. Three young men remain in a [Bishkek] pretrial detention center. They have no documents and say they have no permanent place of residence."

Authorities say the nine were detained on suspicion of being members of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir radical religious grouping who were possibly plotting unrest on the day that marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

But friends of the detainees say they belong to a group calling itself the Bishkek Muslims Jamaat and that they were apprehended despite receiving official authorization to conduct the charity, which would have consisted of a free banquet and a Koran reading contest.

Hizb Ut-Tahrir

Hizb Ut-Tahrir

Arms and leaflets allegedly confiscated from Hizb ut-Tahrir members in Kyrgyzstan in May (RFE/RL)

ATTRACTIVE TO THE YOUNG: It is virtually impossible to estimate the size or composition of Hizb ut-Tahrir's membership in Central Asia, because the controversial movement is banned in most places. But some observers say anecdotal evidence suggests the group's core of younger members is growing....(more)


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