Saturday, July 02, 2016

Ramadan in Kyrgyzstan

In many ways Bishkek in the summer seems like a city frozen in time. Sure everybody has a smart phone and there are other technological and consumer items now that did not exist during Soviet times here. But, in many ways the city still seems very Soviet. The way of life of people, the functioning of the state, and the people in control of the state haven't changed nearly as much as for instance in Estonia and other countries that had been under socialist rule. The single biggest change in fact seems not to be the introduction of consumer capitalism which resembles Soviet state socialism in a number of important ways. Rather the single biggest change and it is a fairly recent one is the revival of Islam as an actually practiced religion rather than just an assertion as part of an ethnic identity. Kyrgyzstan is still fairly secular but people even in Bishkek now actually attend Mosque, celebrate Ramadan, and have otherwise started actually acting as Muslims. Many Americans tend to freak out about any increase in Islamic piety in the world. But, given the actual existing record of radical secularism in both its Soviet and capitalist forms I don't see why this should be the case, especially in Kyrgyzstan and other parts of Central Asia.

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