Authorities in Central Asia say membership in the banned Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Liberation Party) has been on the rise in recent years despite it being illegal and many of its members prosecuted and jailed.
Analysts say the main reason is that the group serves as a way for people to express dissent in countries whose governments don't tolerate opposition. Also, the group's tactics -- or means of propaganda -- seem to play a significant role in its popularity.
Persecuted And Prosecuted
Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) is a highly secretive organization with a well-organized structure and strict hierarchy.
In Central Asia, where hundreds of the group's members have been harshly prosecuted in recent years, HT members are generally cautious to speak to outsiders. But in some areas of Kyrgyzstan where HT's popularity is fairly high group, members are becoming bolder in expressing their opinions publicly.
The creation of an Islamic state -- or caliphate -- is the group's proclaimed goal. It officially denounces violence and says the goal should be achieved through peaceful means.
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RFE/RL Uzbek Service correspondent Elmurod Jusupaliev contributed to this report from Bishkek.