In the predominantly Muslim country of Kyrgyzstan, President Almazbek Atambayev is working to dissuade women from wearing Islamic dress — even going so far as to suggest that the hijab alone can radicalize women. “Our women have been wearing miniskirts since the 1950s, and they never thought about wearing an explosive belt,” said the Kyrgyzstan president. “Terrorists are insane people. Clothes also can change one’s thoughts sometimes,” he added.
The comments came in the wake of several weeks of controversy caused by a government sponsored campaign against “Arabization” of the country, in which banners were flown contrasting women in Kyrgyzstan’s traditional clothing with women in niqabs and burkas. “Poor people! Where are we heading to?” read the banners.
Critics of the campaign had been quick to point out that the traditional Kyrgyz “elchek” headdress is about as conservative as the hijab. In Atambayev’s recent comments, however, he made clear that his point was not about modesty or immodesty, but rather the radical Islamist ideology that has come to be associated with Islamic garb. “You can wear even tarpaulin boots on your head, but do not organize bombings,” Atambayev reportedly said. “This is not religion. Let them wear even miniskirts but there must not be any blasts.”
Atambayev also said that his government “had been eavesdropping on telephone conversations of wives and mistresses of criminals” who “wore sacks on their heads and [wanted] to organize bombings.” People who “do not like Kyrgyzstan,” the president added, presumably facetiously, “can leave our country and go wherever you want. We can pay your travel expenses, even to Syria.”
Around 350 Kyrgyz citizens are believed to be fighting in Syria alongside jihadi groups.
Read the full story at The Sun.