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Wary Locals Question Allegations Of Islamist Role In Kyrgyzstan's Ethnic Violence

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

KARA-SUU, southern Kyrgyzstan -- Six weeks after ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks engulfed southern Kyrgyzstan, people are gathering for Friday prayers at the Imam Sharahshi Mosque. The white, three-story building sits near a canal that marks the border with Uzbekistan.

Imam Rashod qori Kamalov tells the roughly 2,000 Uzbeks here not to think of themselves as Uzbeks and others as Kyrgyz. “We're Muslims first,” he says. "Islam compels us to be brothers."

It's a tough sell. Most of the victims of the violence that killed at least 316 people last month were Uzbek. It was mainly Uzbeks who fled the region -- tens of thousands of them, across the border to refugee camps in Uzbekistan, with hundreds of thousands displaced internally -- after ethnic clashes.

As Kamalov speaks, several Uzbek border guards armed with automatic weapons appear on the other side of the canal to listen.

Officials accuse banned Islamic groups of taking part in the violence. Melis Myrzakmatov, the mayor of Osh, the city at the epicenter of the violence, says "bearded men yelling 'Allahu Akbar'” were seen among crowds of Uzbek attackers.

To read the full story

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Wary Locals Question Allegations Of Islamist Role In Kyrgyzstan's Ethnic Violence

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