THE CIVIL WAR IN TAJIKISTAN HAS BEEN used by Central Asian leaders as a rationale for attempting to moderate the influence of Islam in the region. The former communists in power in those countries have not been open to multiparty democracy and are unnerved by the threat of a religious revival, which could appeal to a large segment of the population and which represents the greatest potential unifying factor. In countries such as Uzbekistan, that threat is used to justify repressive policies - the logic is that slow social reform will prevent the spread of radical Islam. Tajikistan, however, provides almost no basis for such notions.

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