When it comes to religious affairs in Central Asia, authorities are relying on Soviet methods even as they aspire to move away from the Soviet legacy.
Religion, especially Islam, is a cultural marker that has reinforced national identity in Central Asian states since the Soviet collapse in 1991, thus helping regional leaders distance themselves from Moscow and consolidate their authority. At the same time, the ruling classes in Central Asia do not conceal their wariness of religion, tending to see faith as a competitor to state ideology. Thus, they see a need to keep religion under political control.
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Sebastien Peyrouse is a research professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He is affiliated with the Central Asia Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs.