Please join us for a screening of the film Not in Our Name followed by a discussion with Noah Tucker, Senior Editor for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Uzbek Service and associate at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs Central Asia Program.
According to recent estimates, countries of the former Soviet Union are the largest single source of foreign fighters in the Syria/Iraq conflict—more than neighboring states in the Middle East. Although they share no cultural or language ties to Syria or Iraq, it is estimated that more than 4,200 Central Asians have joined the conflict. Communities across the region will feel the effects for decades as those exposed to the horrors of war and extremist ideology return. The challenge Central Asian communities face from extremist groups is real, but so is their determination to fight back on a social and state level.
Not in Our Name, produced by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), is the first regional counter-extremism project ever produced for Central Asia. Staff traveled to diverse areas within the region, exploring and reporting on how residents can work together at the local and national level to prevent the spread of violence and extremism. This unique project collected video portraits of individuals who lost family members in Syria and Iraq, and presented those portraits to young people from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, asking them to share their experiences and perspectives.
RFE/RL’s goal is to use journalism to empower communities to stand up to violent extremist recruiters that claim to represent them. Town halls were held in each country with two different audiences--those directly affected by extremist recruiting and those who have not been impacted. A final session brings all participants together to share their very different experiences and learn from one another.
Uzbek, Kazakh, Tajik, and Kyrgyz participants from all ten town halls agreed there are no simple answers. This film follows them as they come to a deeper understanding of the challenges they face and consider what they can do together to form strong communities that take a stand and declare “Not in Our Name.”
Noah Tucker has worked on Central Asian issues since 2002, specializing in religion, national identity, ethnic conflict, violent extremism and social media. He has spent a total of five years living and working in in the region, primarily in Uzbekistan. He was previously Managing Editor at Registan.net and a researcher for the multi-year Harvard/Carnegie Islam in Eurasia Project. Noah has worked on collaborative projects to identify the way social and religious groups affect political and security outcomes, and headed a team that tracks social media use by Uzbek violent extremist organizations and their effect on the Uzbek language internet. His most recent publications include Islam, Society and Politics in Central Asia edited by Pauline Jones (University of Pittsburgh Press 2017) and "The Evolution of the Uzbek Jihad" in Constructing the Uzbek State: Narratives of Post-Soviet Years edited by Marlene Laruelle (Lexington 2017).