Transition Online
'Extremism foretold'

January 27, 2010

Extremism Foretold
A new documentary argues that radical Islam was a myth in Central Asia – until the region’s leaders started fighting it.

[Danish journalist and filmmaker Michael Andersen has spent years reporting from Central Asia, notably on repression in Uzbekistan under Islam Karimov. His 2008 documentary Andijan: A Massacre Foretold, Forgiven, Forgotten chronicled the violent government crackdown in that city in 2005 and the American and European response. Andersen’s latest film, Breeding Discontent: The Myth of Extremism in Central Asia, which recently aired on Aljazeera English, explores Islamism in Central Asia and the uses to which the terrorist threat is put by governments in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. He discussed the film, and its contention that the region’s regimes might now face an Islamist threat of their own making, in an interview with the Moscow-based news agency] Why did you decide to make this film?

Michael Andersen: For many years, I have observed how the dictators in Central Asia are using this “threat” from this so-called “extremism” to oppress anybody who disagrees with them. Just by labeling them “extremists” or “terrorists.” And how Western politicians are buying the propaganda of people like the Uzbek dictator, Islam Karimov. That is why I decided to make the film and call it The Myth of Religious Extremism in Central Asia.

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index on censorship

October 2008 issue


28 Oct 2008

In lifting sanctions less than one year on from the murder of Alisher Saipov, the EU is letting Uzbekistan’s brutal dictator get away with murder, says Michael Andersen.

Last Friday, 24 October, was the first anniversary of the murder of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz journalist, Alisher Saipov.

With his articles about the massacre in Andijan in May 2005 — where the Uzbek army mowed down up to 1,000 peaceful demonstrators — Alisher was a thorn in the side of the Uzbek regime. It cost him his life.


Alisher’s fate is unfortunately not unique. Since the massacre three-and-a-half years ago, many Uzbek journalists and human rights defenders have been imprisoned, tortured or killed — in the Uzbek regime’s attempt to suppress the truth.

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21 MAY 2005

Michael Andersen on the double standards behind US support for the brutal Uzbek President, Islam Karimov

The Kyrgyz-Uzbek border
To people in Central Asia, home to some of the most oppressive regimes in the world, President BushÕs inaugural speech in January was important. ÔWhen you stand for liberty, we will stand with you,Õ said Bush, and his words sounded very promising. Thirteen years after the collapse of the Soviet dictatorship, no country in Central Asia has yet held elections which could be described as even remotely free or fair. While the presidents, their families and entourages amass enormous fortunes, 80 per cent of the population struggles to survive on less than $1 a day.

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