Turkmenistan: Ruhnama Still A Required Subject for University Exams
When President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov came to office in 2007, he steadily began to remove the trappings of the cult of personality of his predecessor, past dictator Saparmurat Niyazov.
Among Niyazov's odd excesses was the ubiquitous promotion of Ruhnama, the state cult book of spirituality and rules for living that was touted on every state occasion. It was a required subject in schools, inscribed on mosques to the anger of Muslim clergy, and even placed in Internet cafes.
While Berdymukhamedov included the book of Ruhnama in his inauguration ceremony, he began to quietly reduce its presence -- and supplant it with his own works on everything from medicinal plants to race horses to economics. In April, officials removed the book from the compulsory curriculum of secondary schools.
Eager to point to something that can be said to have changed for the better in Turkmenistan since Berdymukhamedov came to power, many observers have hastened to declare Ruhnama dead and gone.
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