around the region

by Nathan Hamm on 10/23/2004 · 1 comment

Here are a few stories from around Central Asia.

First, nCa covers the opening of Turkmenistan’s grand mosque as only they can. In fact, they introduce a new term, “Ha Ha crowd,” for those who exist “solely for making mockery of Turkmenistan.” Well, that’s not all I live for, so I guess I’m only a provisional member.

The criticism it has attracted by the western media reflects the poor knowledge of Islam and contempt for the Turkmen nation and the Turkmen people. It also betrays the prejudice and racism that is always lurking just below the surface.

The main objection has been that quotes from Ruhnama, a spiritual and moral code penned by Niyazov, have been inscribed on the minarets of the mosque. This, somehow, offends the western media.

One may pause and think. Had it really been un-Islamic to display anything other than Koranic verses on the minarets or other structures related to the mosque, the Islamic scholars would have been the first to object to it.

What a lamentable lot of fools we’ve all been! If only we had all turned to nCa and Turkmenistan for our understanding of Islam.

Thankfully, they edify us. I’ll summarize for you.

1) The coolest mosques are built by Gauls.
2) People worship in mosques, but they’re basically community centers.
3) Technically, the outer walls, the upper galleries, minarets, ablution facilities, well, most of the structure really, aren’t technically part of the mosque and are perfect for such decorations as quotations from great spiritual works
or even murals of Freddie Mercury.
4) Mosques can range in size from very small to gi-frickin’-normous, the latter of which allows lots of elbow room.
5) Hey, even if a mosque is built by a totalitarian dictator who decorates the minarets with his quotes and places his book in the entryway, that’s cool, because, after all, those aren’t really part of the mosque anyway.
6) Minarets are the perfect place to look for the answers to driving exams.
7) Modern mosques are made with materials from dar al-Kufr and are centrally heated with heaters slyly hidden in the floor.
8) Minarets? Not part of a mosque, so knock yourself out on the decorations.

Now, a couple more serious issues.

I had meant to mention that Askar Akayev recently spoke at Harvard about democracy in Kyrgyzstan.

Also, Asror wondered what I thought about this. Well, I’m not entirely opposed to Russia developing resource extraction with its neighbors, but I am wary. Russian companies have never been too worried about using their power in service of furthering the Russian government’s interests.

In Russia’s hands, natural gas has become a geopolitical weapon. Citing a “lack of payments,” the Kremlin, via Gazprom, has shut off gas supplies to Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia when the domestic or foreign policies of those countries have run counter to its interests.

Those countries certainly did owe money, but again, I’d be worried. In Uzbekistan’s case, it doesn’t need Russia for its energy needs, but I would worry about Russia having too much power in the gas sector.


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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 1 comment }

Andy (The Yangban) October 24, 2004 at 9:28 am

On an unrelated note, your leader has endorsed Bush.

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