Kök Jar is one of several settlements around Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, that are being slowly swallowed up in the city's urban sprawl. The village, once a Soviet collective farm, has become gradually surrounded by so-called novostroiki, new constructions that feature mansions built by Bishkek's better-off, as well as the more modest dwellings belonging to migrants from the province.
Neighborhoods like Kök Jar reflect the social dynamics of present-day Kyrgyzstan. Along a dusty access road stands a two-floor mosque complex. The building, which, according to locals, was sponsored by a Kuwaiti association, was built about 10 years ago but stood unused for a while because of poor management and a lack of attendance by locals. For the past five years, it has served as the Abu Bakr Al-Sydyk madrassa.
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Bruno De Cordier is with the Conflict Research Group of Ghent University and lived for several years in Kyrgyzstan.