Maybe Tajikistan’s leaders have finally decided that a heavy-handed approach to smoldering discontent is futile and have taken a page from the hearts-and-minds playbook. Despite their concerted crackdown on anything related to Islam lately, the ruling party has offered locals in Isfara -- often described as an Islamic stronghold in northern Tajikistan's section of the Ferghana Valley -- something with popular appeal.
The People’s Democratic Party paid for eight indigent boys from the village of Charku (the scene of a shootout last fall, allegedly with Islamic militants) to be circumcised this week, Avesta.tj reports. The ceremony was complete with music and food and the press service of the regional government said the party promised more support for low-income families in the future.
But the people of Charku may be unimpressed if they learn that, as far as charitable snipping is concerned, they come up short. A year ago, businessmen provided circumcisions for 200 boys at the Dushanbe Business Center and 70 more in Dangara, the president’s home district.
David Trilling is Eurasianet’s managing editor.