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Kyrgyzstan: Shock Billboard Sparks Religious Debate

Residents of Kyrgyzstan’s capital woke up on July 13 to find stark and, to some, provocative billboards on some of the city’s main thoroughfares.

The huge poster shows three groups of women in a variety of female head covers — some of them in the niqab veil that covers almost the entire face — and the words “Oh poor nation, where are we headed?”

The meaning of the image is slightly cryptic. But the arrangement of the pictures — traditional Kyrgyz dress on the left, niqabs on the right and something looking like a halfway version of those two forms of dress in the middle — would suggest that whoever is behind the stunt is concerned at the stealthy spread of ultra-orthodox Muslim customs in the country.

The first public reaction to the billboard came from prominent religious affairs commentators Kadyr Malikov, who has made a name for himself forecasting the rise of radical Islam in Kyrgyzstan. 

Malikov described the poster as a “provocation.”

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Kyrgyzstan: Shock Billboard Sparks Religious Debate

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