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Majlis Podcast: Why Are Central Asian Authorities Obsessed With Beards And Hijabs?


Beards and women's head scarves are frowned upon in parts of Central Asia. (file photo)

What people wear on their heads in Central Asia is a matter of concern for the governments there. Many women have found themselves in trouble for wearing a hijab, and many men for wearing a beard.

It has been like that for years, but recently there have been several examples of a growing intolerance of the hijab and the beard in Central Asia, and it seemed like a good time to look at why facial hair and certain sorts of headscarves so irk authorities.

So, RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderated a discussion on the beard and hijab in Central Asia and authorities' objections to them.

Joining the discussion from Washington DC was Nadine Maenza, the commissioner of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom. From St. Petersburg, Russia, where she works for Turkish international news channel TRT, Aruuke Uran kyzy participated in the talk. Ulan kyzy is originally from Kyrgyzstan. Taking part from Tajikistan was Rustam Gulov, a blogger and rights activist who was once apprehended by police and had his beard forcibly shaved. As usual, I pitched in with a few comments as well.

Majlis Podcast: Central Asian Authorities' Obsession Over Beards And Hijabs
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About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.

Bruce Pannier
Bruce Pannier

Content draws on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad.

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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