Because Kazakhstan does not have a clear religious policy, it has become the norm that everyone is entitled to his or her own perspective on faith. As it was twenty years ago, no one is really bothered by this multitude of views, which is evidenced by the debate on religion and traditions, which recently spilled over into the blogosphere.
The discussion was sparked by the Kara Zhorga dance, which has become popular in the country in the last few years.
Urimtal writes [kaz]: “I think Kara Zhorga is not just a dance, but a whole phenomenon that has united the nation. Even Kazakhs who live abroad are taking part. When our government describes the expatriates in not-so-flattering terms, Kara Zhorga is a kind of response to such criticism.”
Orken wrote a post on the subject [kaz]:
“Let’s say the dance has roots in Mongolian or Kalmykian culture, but we’re the ones who made it into a national brand. The Mongols, the Chinese and the Kalmyks didn’t object in any way. This is why I think it’s a sign of ignorance that many of us have a short memory when it comes to tradition or even bring up Islam as an opposing force.”
In 2011, Kazakhstan will chair the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Yet there was a discussion [kaz] not too long ago about a “potential law that would ban the wearing of headscarves.” Malimetter.org confirms the reports, and points to the causes, or rather, deputy Minister of Education and Science Mahmetkali Sarbyev does [kaz]:
“Kazakhstan is a multi-confessional state. If we permit people to wear the hijab, then tomorrow thirty students in a single class will show up wearing something different – and that won’t lead to anything good,” he explains.
Timurr writes that the law will be unconstitutional, since the constitution guarantees freedom of religious expression [kaz]:
“Given everything that is happening right now, I don’t think our officials and ministers are unaware they are going against the law. But, if this is the case, why are they doing it?”