Recent political changes in Kyrgyzstan have not tempered a brewing social and cultural quandary in southern provinces. An increasing number of citizens of the South are becoming practicing Muslims. For working women in particular this is creating a dilemma, forcing some to choose between their faith and their careers.
In March, Mars Dooronova, a well-known TV presenter and producer with Osh’s popular ELTR station, quit because her supervisor, the station’s former deputy director, Mametibraim Janybekov, prohibited her from wearing a hijab, or traditional Muslim head covering, in the office and on air.
"I got married [recently] and now that I am a married woman I have started wearing a hijab, but Mametibraim Janybekov said I can’t wear a hijab on the air, and even within the building [of the TV Company]," 31-year-old Dooronova told EurasiaNet.org shortly after she resigned. Citing the Koran, she said, "I have been praying for five years and I cannot wear open T-shirts or mini-skirts. I prefer a hijab."
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Hamid Tursunov is a journalist based in Osh.