09ASTANA249, KAZAKHSTAN: CHIEF MUFTI CRITICISES EXTREMISM, CAUTIOUSLY

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09ASTANA249.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA249 2009-02-12 01:06 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO9689
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK
RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0249/01 0430106
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 120106Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4580
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1160
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0557
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1263
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0277
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2144
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2472
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0734
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0650
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000249 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, IIP, DRL/IRF 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI KISL KIRF KPAO KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  CHIEF MUFTI CRITICISES EXTREMISM, CAUTIOUSLY 
OPEN TO ENGLISH INSTRUCTION IN MADRASSAS 
 
1.  (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2.  (SBU) SUMMARY: During a February 6 meeting, Chief Mufti  and 
Head of the Spiritual Association of Muslims in Kazakhstan (SAMK) 
Absasttar Derbisali told the Ambassador that Islam is undergoing a 
renaissance in Kazakhstan.  He shared his concern that religious 
extremism has tarnished the image of Islam, noting that Kazakhstan's 
educated populace is less susceptible to extremist ideas but 
admitting that Hizb-ut Tahrir (HT), a banned extremist organization, 
does function in Southern Kazakhstan.  Derbisali lamented that 
"sects have flooded Kazakhstan" since independence.  He underlined 
that education of imams is his first priority.  The Ambassador 
presented our proposal to fund three English Language Fellows (ELF) 
TO teach English at Kazakhstan's madrassas.  The Chief Mufti was 
cautiously open to the proposal, saying that he has to weigh 
carefully how English would fit into the students' already-crowded 
curriculum, but noted favorably that English education would allow 
Kazakhstani imams to participate in international conferences.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
ISLAM'S LONG HISTORY IN CENTRAL ASIA 
 
3.  (SBU) On February 6, the Ambassador met in Almaty with Chief 
Mufti and Head of the Spiritual Association of Muslims in Kazakhstan 
(SAMK) Absattar Derbisali.  Derbisali opened the meeting with a 
brief overview of the history of Islam in Central Asia, noting that 
Islam came to the region in the 8th century, well before the nomadic 
Central Asian tribes organized into separate and cohesive entities 
in the 15th century.  He reminded the Ambassador that the practice 
of Islam was tightly controlled both by the Tsarist and Soviet 
authorities, and as a result, few Kazakhs had real knowledge of 
Islam at the time of Kazakhstan's independence.  The religion has 
undergone a renaissance since then, with the number of mosques 
reaching 2,300 today.  Derbisali underlined that his priority for 
SAMK is to focus on educating imams about the history and teachings 
of Islam, who in turn will educate the populace. 
 
RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS TARNISH ISLAM 
 
4.  (SBU) Derbisali shared his concern that religious extremists 
have tarnished the image of Islam, but noted that Kazakhstan differs 
from Muslim nations like Afghanistan and Pakistan "where people are 
illiterate" and are therefore "easily lead astray."  Kazakhstan's 
SAMK "closely follows" President Nazarbayev's policy of "tolerance 
and unity above all else."  Derbisali related that the majority of 
Kazakhs follow the Hanafi branch of Sunni Islam, although there are 
some adherents to Salafism.  He admitted that Hizb-ut Tahrir (HT), 
the banned extremist organization, has a presence in Kentau in 
Southern Kazakhstan.  He said he traveled there himself to meet with 
its followers and explain the error of their ways.  "Religion should 
not mix with politics," stressed the Chief Mufti.  The Ambassador 
expressed his agreement. 
 
NON-TRADITIONAL FAITHS A THREAT 
 
5.  (SBU) Derbisali lamented that since independence, new religious 
groups or, as he put it, "sects and gurus," have "flooded" 
Kazakhstan.  These missionaries have brought "dangerous" ideas with 
them, "clogging people's minds."  (NOTE:  Derbisali has publicly 
supported the draft law on religion, which would significantly limit 
the activities of smaller "non-traditional" religious groups.  The 
draft is now before the Constitutional Council for review.  END 
NOTE.) 
 
CHIEF MUFTI PONDERS THE IDEA OF ENGLISH IN MADRASSAS 
 
6.  (SBU) The Chief Mufti underscored that his top priority as SAMK 
Chair is to improve the education of imams and to open more 
madrassas in Kazakhstan.  He proudly highlighted that the Almaty 
Islamic Institute opened under his tenure, with the help of Egypt's 
Al-Azhar University.  The Ambassador commended the Mufti's 
commitment to education and proposed providing three U.S.-funded 
English Language Fellows (ELFs) to teach English in Kazakhstan's 
madrassas.  Derbisali welcomed the proposal, but said that he needs 
 
ASTANA 00000249  002 OF 002 
 
 
to think about it.  His primary concern seemed to be how to fit 
English instruction into a crowded curriculum where students are 
already studying three languages -- Kazakh, Russian, and Arabic.  He 
worr
ied that students who come from rural areas and are struggling 
to learn Russian would be overloaded with yet another language. 
Despite these reservations, Derbisali noted that English education 
would allow Kazakhstan's imams to participate in international 
seminars and conferences.  He stressed that he and his staff will 
seriously consider the proposal.  After the meeting, Nurzhan 
Makhanov, the head of Chief Mufti's Protocol and External Relations 
Department, also floated the idea of having ELFs teach English for 
members of the SAMK Secretariat.  The Ambassador told Makhanov that 
the program is flexible and can be molded to SAMK's needs. 
 
HOAGLAND

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: