Americans living in Central Asia watched terrorists attack their homeland through the filters and fears of their adoptive countries. EurasiaNet rounded up reports from Americans in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the days following the September 11 strikes in New York and Washington.
Sources report access to US embassies throughout the region has been virtually cut off. In Kyrgyzstan, for example, streets near the US embassy in Bishkek have been cordoned off, and Kyrgyz Interior Ministry forces are preventing pedestrians from getting near the building, the AKIpress web site reported. Diplomats have suspended indefinitely many functions, including visa processing. Similar safety procedures have been implemented in Kazakhstan. Not only foreign legations, but also the local offices of foreign corporations are under guard by Kazakhstani security officials.
Many local officials and citizens sympathize with the United States. The Kyrgyz government observed a moment of silence on September 12, and Georgia declared Sept. 14 a day of mourning. But expatriates can find abundant breaches of this sympathy. In Tajikistan, reports one source, authorities jammed the TV signal on the night of the attacks, forcing citizens to watch a national history show instead of news from the U.S. At Bishkek University in the Kyrgyz capital, vandals broke windows and left behind anti-American graffiti. Elsewhere in Bishkek, graffiti reading "F#!k the US" appeared in a busy intersection.
Meanwhile, mainstream Muslims and politicians are maneuvering for political advantage even as they condemn the attacks. According to a longtime resident of Uzbekistan, that country's chief imam condemned the hijackers the day after the attack. At the same time, says this source, the state-controlled press has "essentially said