The leader of Tajikistan’s main genuine opposition party has told EurasiaNet.org that he is embarking on a period of self-imposed exile over fears that the government plans to jail him on bogus charges.
Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) leader Muhiddin Kabiri’s announcement comes amid a sustained campaign of intimidation against government critics.
In his Mother’s Day speech last month, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon criticized women who wear “foreign” clothing, especially the black veils associated with conservative Islam. Within days, officials began threatening shopkeepers who sell hijab, the Islamic head covering for women; a few days later state television reported that sex workers are using hijab to drive up their prices.
Security officials in several Central Asia states are playing up the threat posed by Islamic militants returning to the region from Syria. While authorities warn of potential problems ahead, analysts are struggling to assess the real risk level.
Walk into one of the ubiquitous Bishkek butcher shops advertising itself as “halal” and ask what the word means, and you are likely to receive a shrug and a gesture pointing to a certificate on the wall. In Kyrgyzstan, where the observance of Islamic customs appears to be spreading quickly, there’s little agreement about how to prepare meat in a religiously proper way.
On a warm autumn day in early November, pedestrians in downtown Bishkek met an unusual sight: a 500-strong crowd of hijab-sporting female Muslim activists riding bicycles, heading to a state hospital to donate blood. “Passersby were in shock,” laughed Jamal Frontbek kyzy, whose organization Mutakallim helped organize the event. “We wanted to dispel stereotypes.
While there are numerous touchstones of tension in Azerbaijan, including corruption and income inequality, local analysts say it’s unlikely that religion will emerge as a major fault line in Azerbaijani society for the foreseeable future.
After Friday prayers ended recently at Atyrau’s Old Mosque, a crowd of men, most of them younger than 30, poured onto the street. Many were wearing the distinctive shortened trousers and long beards with trimmed mustaches of Muslims who are striving to emulate the Prophet Muhammad. Down the street, a camera on a telephone pole recorded everyone who entered and left the mosque.