When Ismoil told his parents that he wanted to attend one of Osh’s newly opened madrasahs and become an imam, his parents thought it a bad idea. The year was 1994, and their dusty corner of southern Kyrgyzstan had only a handful of mosques – a legacy of the Soviet Union’s tight control over religion. His parents worried Ismoil would not earn enough to feed himself.
Georgians have developed a taste for fast food during the fasting period of Lent. The trend has highlighted a cultural paradox in this South Caucasus state, where Orthodox Christianity forms perhaps the main pillar of national identity.
Patriarch Filaret heads the Kyiv Patriarchate, the branch of Ukrainian Orthodoxy that is loyal to President Petro Poroshenko’s administration. He recently sat down with EurasiaNet.org to discuss religious affairs in Ukraine and how the ongoing conflict between Kyiv and Moscow is extending into the spiritual sphere.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to use religion to advance an expansionist agenda. But an increasing number of believers in Ukraine appear to be rejecting the notion that Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church are the defenders of the true faith.