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Experts warn Ukraine against flirtation with Hizb-ut-Tahrir radicals

October 10, 2013, 18:32 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, October 10 (Itar-Tass) - A rally by supporters of the radical Islamic movement Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Simferopol (the Crimea, Ukraine) has sparked alarm among Russian politicians, experts and religious figures. The chairman of the State Duma’s international affairs committee, Aleksei Pushkov, has left the following remark on his page in Twitter, “Kiev is obsessed with its rapprochement with the EU and it may overlook the emergence of a centre of radical Islam in Crimea. The instance of an open rally by Hizb-ut-Tahrir is really alarming.”

The rally took place on Monday, October 7, after this Islamic party campaigning for the creation of a World Caliphate was refused a hall for holding the international forum entitled Islamic Appeal in the Post-Soviet Space and Hizb-ut-Tahrir: the Realities and Challenges.

This organization is outlawed in the entire post-Soviet space but for Ukraine. The question is why?

The director of the CIS Countries Institute, Konstantin Zatulin, has told ITAR-TASS, “The activity of the movement Hizb-ut-Tahrir is not allowed in Ukraine, but no effective measures are being taken against that organization in the Crimea, because the movement has a very favourable environment in that region - the Crimean Tatars. The analyst believes that part of the Crimean Tatar community has been radicalized over the past few years.

“The radicals are dissatisfied with the existence of the majlis of the Crimean Tatars as the sole Muslim centre in the Crimea, although its leaders are also members of the Ukrainian parliament,” he said.

Zatulin believes that the main weakness of the Ukrainian authorities’ position towards Hizb-ut-Tahrir is this radical movement will not let Russia lay claim to the Crimea, and the Slav population of the peninsula, to campaign for their rights.”

“In order to prevent a hypothetical loss of the Crimea the authorities in Kiev are artificially creating internal problems there and allow Hizb-ut-Tahrir to play the role of an angry dog guarding the entrance to the Crimea,” Zatulin said.

The director of the CIS Studies Institute also said, “The Ukrainian authorities neither cooperate with Hizb-ut-Tahrir nor struggle with it, either. A legal congress of the movement in Simferopol did not take place for the sole reason the management of the local theatre severed the lease contract. It was a really dubious and shamefaced move by the local authorities.”

As far as the rally by Islamic radicals in Simferopol is concerned, “it is very unsafe for Ukraine,” Zatulin said. Hizb-ut-Tahrir is not a charity fund, it is an organization that is pressing for the creation of World Caliphate in violation of the laws of all countries on the state borders.” The expert pointed to the fact that the movement’s activists were acting in the guise of a civil society. “The organizers of the Islamic Congress dared send an invitation to representatives of the CIS Countries’ Institute. The underlying meaning of this gesture is this: we are a legal civic force that has to be taken into account by everybody, including Russia.”

Zatulin said the authorities in Kiev is very much concerned over the possibility collective oppositional sentiment may grow among the Crimea’s Slav population after Ukraine has joined the European Union. This is the reason why Kiev is looking for allies among those who under ordinary circumstances are should be looked at as an indecent company to stay in.”

The first deputy chairman of Russia’s Muslim Board, Damirkhazran Mukhetdinov, has told ITAR-TASS in an interview that Hizb-ut-Tahrir is outlawed not just in Russia, but in a number of other Muslim and European countries. The council of the muftis of Russia acts within the framework of Russian legislation. It has never questioned the outlawed status of that organization.