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  • » 04/30/2010, 00.00


    Islamic veil and fundamentalism are back in Bishkek

    In a country that is 80 per cent Muslim, strict adherence to Islamic rules is making a comeback with women forced to wear hijab. However, in the workplace, many employers have banned the veil and this has created a controversy. Experts wonder how it will affect Kyrgyz society.
    Bishkek (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Islamic fundamentalism, already strong in southern Kyrgyzstan, might get a boost from the country’s current political uncertainties, following the ouster of President Kurmanbak Bakiyev who was replaced by a caretaker government.

    The rising tide of fundamentalism is causing a number of social problems. One example illustrates the situation. In March, Mars Dooronova, a well known TV presenter and producer with Osh’s popular ELTR station, quit because her supervisor, the station’s former deputy director, Mametibraim Janybekov, prohibited her from wearing a hijab in the office and on air.

    “I got married [recently] and now that I am a married woman I have started wearing a hijab, but Mametibraim Janybekov said I can’t wear a hijab on the air, and even within the building [of the TV Company]," 31-year-old Dooronova told EurasiaNet.

    Janybekov offered Dooronova a compromise, saying that she could come to work in a hijab and change her clothes in the office while she was at work. She rejected the deal.

    "I can’t be double-faced. I can deceive people, but I cannot deceive Allah. If I could not be on the air in my hijab and even in the office, how could I work there? This is why I had to resign," said the presenter, who had worked at the station for 11 years.

    Kyrgyzstan is a Muslim nation, but like in other former Soviet republic, religious practice tends to be moderate. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Islam got a boost throughout Central Asia, but in particular in Kyrgyzstan’s Fergana Valley, where Osh is located.

    Here, Muslim religious leaders have tended to promote a strict observance of Islamic law.

    Makhmud Aripov, the imam of the Nabijon Haji Mosque in Osh, told EurasiaNet, “Wearing a hijab secures a woman’s chastity, and a lack of hijabs results in divorces. A mother wearing a hijab serves an example for her daughter, which will help secure her honour.”

    All this has led to a growing number of hijab-related conflicts. At present, such incidents are more common in secondary schools, involving senior female students wearing hijabs.

    Despite the fact that the country is 80 per cent, local Muslims were not very observant, and tolerated how others chose to interpret religious rules.

    Now the debate is over a number of issues, not the least how compulsory the hijab is, especially in the south. In any event, women are the first to pay for the situation. In many offices and schools, wearing the veil has been banned.

    Experts wonder about what is behind the rebirth of strict adherence to Islamic rules. They note that Muslim religious leaders justify enforcing rules on some vague reference to divine precepts but reject any social change that might have occurred in the last centuries.

    The issue is when a strict adherence to a rule becomes intolerant extremism.

    This danger should not be underestimated, especially in light of Kyrgyzstan’s north-south divide, which emerged during the protest movement that led to the downfall of President Bakiyev.

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    See also

    29/12/2017 09:28:00 IRAN
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    12/02/2018 09:41:00 IRAN
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    In celebrating the 39th anniversary of the Khomeinist revolution, the president exalts the unity of the country and the constitution. The revolution was victorious when the people were united. Conservatives must allow everyone to run for election. All Iranians of all religions are revolutionaries.

    12/07/2017 13:26:00 TAJIKISTAN
    Rahmon says no to veil and beard, calls for respect for Tajik tradition

    Tajik president says that the veil and black dresses are not in line with the country’s culture, and the beard is not a sign of religiosity. Tajiks should "love God with their hearts" and not seek to show their "righteousness" through external attributes.

    02/10/2006 KYRGYZSTAN
    Kyrgyzstan: anti-Christian violence becomes persecution

    Crowds of extremist Muslims attack and threaten Protestant pastors and demand that they shut down their churches. The authorities fail to intervene and instead ask Christians to be "less active". Parliament is examining a bill of law to limit missionary activities.

    21/10/2008 KUWAIT
    Two female Kuwaiti ministers risk "dismissal" for not wearing the veil
    A parliamentary committee has decided that their attire, without the hijab, violates the constitution and the electoral law. The matter will now be submitted to a vote in parliament.

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