The international conference "Islam and National Security of the New Independent Central Asian States" opened in Alma-Ata on Monday. It has been organized by representatives of the OSCE and the European Commission in Kazakhstan, the Kazakh Institute for Strategic Research under the country's president and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Taking part in the conference are associates of international research institutes from Russia and the USA, as well as representatives of Kazakhstan's government and parliament.
The press-release issued on the previous day notes that in the past few years "the problem of the presence of the Islamic factor in the policies of both separate Central Asian states, as well as the region as a whole, is becoming ever weightier."
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.