Monday, March 09, 2009

Tajik Laicism

Two bits of news reported recently by RFE-RL suggest that the major goals of Tajikistan's religious policy is and perhaps has been for some time to consolidate the state's control over religion. One is a draft bill giving priority to Hanafi Sunni Islam and banning the proselytizing of other religions. That law would also increase regulation of religious schools even as the government introduces a standardized Hanafism into its curriculum, without consulting religious leaders who may be sympathetic to the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party.

Tajikistan is not a Turkic nation, but its moves may be related to increasing Turkish influence in Central Asia as a model of Islamic modernity. Turkey is famous for its public secularism, but at the same time the government controls religious knowledge in the country, imposing Sunni teachings on the Alevi minority. I suspect the origins of this lie in efforts to break the power of the ulama and homogenize a Turkish nation. Similar issues are at play in Tajikistan, which is in the midst of a post-Soviet nation-building project, has a strong Islamist movement, and includes a substantial religious minority, in this case Isma'ili. It may also stem from an official nationalism seen when President Emamoli Rahmon dropped the "ov" from his name and urged Tajiks to return to their cultural roots in the post-Soviet era.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home