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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 Majlis

Each week, hosts Bruce Pannier and Muhammad Tahir welcome a panel of expert guests to discuss significant political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia.

Click here to check out the latest Majlis podcast, or visit ITunes.

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