The King of Korasuv

by Nathan Hamm on 5/21/2005 · 3 comments

The BBC’s Tim Whitewell spent some time with Bakhtiyor Rakhimov and what he reports lends credence to what I said about all his declarations of building an Islamic state probably not being much to worry about.

But all that I could tell was just bravado, just as it was bravado when he said his supporters had gone around persuading liquor stores to close.

I found no difficulty at all locating vodka or brandy in Korasuv.

This week in newspapers all over the world, you can read that Mr Rakhimov proclaimed an independent Islamic state.

The truth, of course, is more subtle and confusing.

As far as I can see, Mr Rakhimov did not proclaim anything and I met few people prepared to agree openly with his ideas.

He was simply the head of an important local family, a big man in a very small town. A town terrified of the consequences of its moment of defiance.

And it appears the guy did like the crazy smoke.

Afterwards I drank green tea under the plum tree and he puffed away on a spliff of green weed – a natural and Islamic alternative, he told me, to the devils of tobacco and alcohol.

He is, apparently, fairly popular. Korasuv residents have taken to the streets for the second day to demand his release.

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– 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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Robert May 21, 2005 at 12:02 pm

I’m glad to see these initial predictions panning out as information becomes available. Of course, I don’t expect the rest of the mainstream press to pick up on it. I still see plenty of websites, when superficially following the story, highlight it as “Islamic extremist arrests by Uzbek police” and the like. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow, they were able to really paint this in the Islamic extremism light. I guess when their stories are only a few hundred words and written by total incompetents, they can’t afford to level any depth. And that’s why I’ll always read RFE/RL over Reuters 😀

Lyndon May 22, 2005 at 7:49 am

Nathan, isn’t it likely that Rakhimov got a swift bullet to the head after they arrested him? I can’t imagine they would let him go free, although maybe they will keep him alive for a show trial and mock his weed-smoking ways.

Robert, it’s clear to me that Karimov’s job in painting this all in the international media as Islamist-driven is made easier by the (perhaps understandable, perhaps not) paranoia which exists in some circles in the West about Muslims empowering themselves in unpredictable ways. Plus, I think that angle may be the only way some outlets could cover it in 200 words or less – they didn’t want to not cover it at all, but they didn’t want to (or couldn’t) do an actual analysis, so they went with a familiar story line.

Nathan May 22, 2005 at 9:19 am

As bad as Uzbekistan is, they do like their trials. Unless he dies in custody (though judging from statements made by the Andijon 23, he might not be abused beyond the beating he got during arrest), they’ll probably put him before a judge.

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