Exposed to Extremism: How Central Asian Migrants Become Vulnerable to Radicalization




Central Asia (IOM) – One of the most keenly discussed topics at the meeting of the Almaty Process countries in Bishkek this week was the thorny subject of radicalization.

Piotr Kazmierkiewicz, IOM Lead International Expert, sat down with IOM Senior Media Officer Joe Lowry to discuss the findings in a recently commissioned study entitled Assessing Risks and Opportunities Associated with Return Migration: Framework for Understanding and Identifying Needs for Interventions.

JL: We often talk about routes and journeys when we talk about migration. Is there any typical route towards radicalization of migrants in Central Asia?

PK: No, we can’t really say there’s any one path. It’s a complex journey, combining both ideological and socioeconomic factors. And then you have to add in the socio-cultural situation in the countries of destination and origin. On the economic side, you have poverty, unemployment and an inability to feed the family. On the social side you might have constant experiences of mistreatment multiplied by the subjective perspective such as feelings of injustice and an inability to make life meaningful. Ideological factors then are based on the dissemination of radical ideas by extremist groups in Russia and Central Asia, as well as the absence of possibilities for religious development in secular states.

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