Central Asia: Balancing National Security with the Freedom of Religion

Sher-Dor Madrasa in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Since September 11, 2001 all five Central Asian countries have enacted legislation restricting religious freedoms in an attempt to curb the rise of radical Islamic terrorism. The new laws have had a damaging effect on the free practice of religion. In 2004, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, stated [Read More…]

State Sovereignty or Democracy: Which Will Win in Iran’s election?

2009 protest in Iran Flickr image courtesy of asterix611 on Flickr

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s attempts to secure the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran have extended well beyond his declaration to become the first Iranian in space. After widespread protests following the disputed 2009 election results, Ahmadinejad and the ruling elite led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have chosen to ensure a consolidation of power before the [Read More…]

Bridal Kidnapping: A Kyrgyz Method of Marriage

CC image courtesy of Evgeni Zotov on Flickr.

On the eve of their wedding, a third of all Kyrgyz brides hear the traditional mantra: “Every good marriage begins in tears.” The custom known as “ala kachuu” (or “grab and run”) has been on the rise for the last fifty years. Between eight and twelve thousand girls are kidnapped for forced marriage each year. [Read More…]

2022 World Cup and the Exploitation of Migrant Workers in Qatar

Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Bid Billboard. CC image courtesy of AslanMedia on Flickr.

In December 2010, Qatar received the honor of becoming the first Arab country to host the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup. In preparation for the 2022 games, Qatar will spend an estimated US$100 billion on infrastructure and require a workforce exceeding its 300,000 official citizens. Although Qatar’s official citizenry is one of [Read More…]

Cotton Picking in Uzbekistan: A Child Labor Industry

Irrigation for the cotton crop has led to the Aral Sea disaster. The cotton is picked by hand mainly by women, and including child labor. Credit: Chris Shervey

Every September, state-run institutions in Uzbekistan lock their doors and display the words, Hamma pahtada Uzbek for “Everybody’s gone cotton-picking.” As the world’s third largest exporter of raw cotton, Uzbekistan’s cotton exports generate $1 billion in annual revenue. From September to November, the entire country is immersed in what has been described as “cotton hysteria.” [Read More…]

Protection of the Amazigh Identity in Libya’s New Constitution

Libyan Amazigh fleeing Libya to Tunisia CC Image Courtest of Maghrebia on Flickr

Comprising ten percent of the Libyan population,  the Berbers (who call themselves Amazigh, meaning “free man”) celebrate a cultural heritage that pre-dates Arab expansion by thousands of years. Though they do not consider themselves to be a unified nation, the Amazigh have developed a culture distinct from the Arab identity. Under the Qaddafi regime, the [Read More…]