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Power, “Original” Islam, and the Reactivation of a Religious Utopia in Kara-Suu, Kyrgyzstan

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image of Central Asian Affairs

This article focuses on the political uses of Islam in the Kyrgyzstani Fergana Valley, through case studies of the main Kyrgyzstani Uzbek theologians based in the city of Karu-Suu, who appear to be core actors in re-Islamization, and propagators of Saudi-style Salafi Islam. The article first argues that religious debates and postures concerning the relationship to secular power are inscribed in patronage and personal clientelist networks as well as local power struggles. Then it discusses the reactivation of a religious utopia that challenges the existing political and financial order through a local rhetoric on establishing an idealized caliphate, conveying a message not only of social justice but also of economic transparency and free trade.

Affiliations: 1: Sciences-po, CERI, CETOBaC


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