Central Asia and Afghanistan
On February 14th, women and men from all around the world joined the One Billion Rising campaign and danced to protest against gender-based violence. Bishkek was no exception. Read the full story »
Although not an official holiday of the European Union, that didn’t stop the European Parliament in Brussels from partying hard to commemorate Nawrúz this year. My friend and colleague Kawa Ahangari, a Kurdish secularist/federalist activist from Iran, has provided NewEurasia with a cache of photos from the event, which saw representatives from across the Iranian-Central Asian world, from Azerbaijan and Iraqi Kurdistan in the west to Tajikistan in the east.
Nurzhan Kadyrkulova, our new blogger from Kyrgyzstan, with report from exhibition “From the present to the past: the life of Afghan Kyrgyz” , special for NewEurasia
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The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (Department of Anthropology and Sociology) invites paper proposals for an interdisciplinary workshop: Muslims and Sports (event date: July 2013).
Editor’s Note: Turkmenistan’s strongman president has made the fight against drugs a major priority of his regime. How’s he faring? In a rare breeze of good news from the country, NewEurasia’s Annasoltan reports that his actions may actually be faring somewhat well!
Ever since Berdimuhamedov — a former health minister and dentist by training — came to power in 2007, Turkmenistan has been engaged in a very radical struggle. During the Niyazov era, wider availability of drugs combined with a grave socioeconomic situation led to a spike in addiction. It was estimated by a former foreign minister that approximately 50% of the population was involved in either the use or sale of drugs! Almost every family had a loved on doped up on narcotics.
There were even allegations that Niyazov himself had a personal stake in the drug business. These allegations arose from his very weird policies on the issue; for instance, he legalized carrying five grams of opium. It’s almost a certainty that some elements of the government, high or low, are involved in the drug business. After all, our country is located on a major transit route between Afghanistan and Europe. In fact, we lie at the intersection of several consumers, including Iran and (via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) Russia.
Karajan and Baychobar stop to rest, but when the rider attempts to get his horse to use a feedbag, the Kalmaks mock the animal — another grave offence in the culture of that time.
Upon reaching twenty days’ distance, the horses mounted by the Kalmaks stopped at a stage. Karajan observed this out of the corner of his eye. He reached the boundary [and listened, for the] Kalmaks were having a discussion.
As Karajan races against the Kalmaks to win the hand of Barchin for his friend Alpamysh, he undergoes a series of challenges. The first: the Kalmaks call him a betrayer of tradition for his conversion to Islam — a dreadful accusation!
The horse was covered with foamy sweat. Karajan cried out for the Saints’ help to progress for forty days.
After five days, Karajan was was running along the edge of the four hundred and ninety other horsemen. He slept for a while, then remounted Chobar.
After ten days, he made another stop: rested for a while, slept a spell, and tested his friend’s horse.
After fifteen days, he reached the fountain of Ak Bulak, where the Kalmaks were entertaining themselves. They were saying over and again, so that Karajan would hear them:
The race for Barchin’s hand in marriage has begun: whoever can reach her jurt first shall have her! Alpamysh and Karajan’s enemies prepare themselves, numbering as many as 490. But Alpamysh himself is banned from racing on account of his age, forcing the much older Karajan to compete in his place…
Karajan told Alpamysh what Barchin said. Alpamysh asked him, “Are my elders well?” “They are well, my friend,” Karajan replied. Upon hearing this news, they rested Baychobar for seven days and nights.
Meanwhile, the Kalmaks rode hard over the stony ground towards the fortress of Taysha Khan. They hid their beloved in the castle, for to the winner of the horse race contest, Barchin was the prize; hence, all hell broke loose [among them].
For the lady and the child, horsetails were braided. Death is an order of the creator: no Kalmak was left behind, all were gathered, and all cried with the hope of receiving the hand of Barchin. [According to the mollas,] four hundred and ninety swift horses from the side of Taysha entered the race.
Karajan called for his friend Alpamysh, who was ready to enter the race. [Yet,] Alpamysh himself was not permitted [on account of his age of 14 years], for children only fetch the horses. His friend Karajan was fielded instead, declaring, “For the sake of friendship, I will be the horsegroom!”
The Open Society Documentary Photography Project (http://www.soros.org/initiatives/photography) and Arts and Culture Program (http://www.soros.org/initiatives/arts) announce a grant and training opportunity for documentary photographers from Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Pakistan.
The grant is being offered to:
* visually document issues of importance in the region; and
* provide training and support to photographers from the region.
Approximately 10 cash stipends in the amount of $3,500 each will be awarded to photographers to produce a photo essay on a current human rights or social issue in the region. Grantees will participate in two master-level workshops on visual storytelling through photography and multimedia. These workshops are led by internationally-recognized photographers and industry professionals who will then provide ongoing mentorship and support throughout the six-month grant term.
The Open Society Foundations will pay travel and hotel expenses and provide a per diem to cover meals and incidentals for the workshops.
The deadline for proposals is May 10, 2012.
For more information on the grant, please visit: