Governments in Central Asia recognize a "traditional" or "official" version of the Islamic faith to strengthen the national identity, but also to legitimize local authoritarian regimes. Officials justify structural and political grievances by referencing a 'security discourse' of "Islamic danger". However, governmental repressions against "unofficial" Islamic practices could have counterproductive effects.
Kyrgyzstan‘s religious liberalism of the early 1990s gave way to a rather repressive control since the political unrest in 2010. As a result of the political exclusion, Islamic radicalization is discernable among the Uzbek ethnic minority in southern Kyrgyzstan. The newly sanctified state-religion is to counter the radicalization.
Under the AKP Government, Turkey sought to increase its influence in South Eastern Europe and Central Asia by emphasizing historic, religious, and kinship ties. The Diyanet, the Turkish Presidency for Religious Affairs, is a key player in this process. There are Muslims in South Eastern Europe and Central Asia who welcome the support of the Diyanet. Others, however, resist the strong interference of Turkish religious actors.
The legacy of the Ottoman Empire is still evident in Bosnia-Herzegovina and all through the Balkans, and continues to play an important role in Muslim societies. Under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the AKP instrumentalizes the Ottoman legacy to strengthen its foreign policy, as is evident in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Economic means and developmental aid are, however, secondary, compared to the cultural and educational influence Turkey exerts in the region. The schisms between the Gülen movement and the AKP are also felt in the region.
At presend, two Islamic communities compete for legacy in Serbia. The resulting difficulties are particularly evident on the Serbian side of the Sandžak region – home to a majority of the Muslim population of Serbia where religious and political leaders instrumentalize religious divisions to garner political support. A great majority of the population, meanwhile, seeks economic progress in the neglected region.
The traditionally moderate and tolerant interpretation of Islam dates back to the Ottoman Empire. Though extremist propaganda messages infiltrated Kosovo over the past 20 years, there are only isolated cases of radicalization in Kosovo.