The Heart of Eurasia.

Turkestan 070The country where I am from is a truly unique place. Kazakhstan is a muslim majority country where alcohol is sold freely, and women are banned from wearing headscarves in government buildings and schools.

In fact most Kazakh women do not wear hijab, and if someone does wear it, she is branded as an extremist. For centuries hijab was outside of Kazakh tradition,  our women  and girls did not even bother to cover their hair in public. Unlike arabs we never thought that modesty meant making yourself hidden from view.  Another difference is that female genital mutilation was not practiced in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, while it was and still is a widespread practice in the Arab World.

So our version of Islamic culture was more liberal than the ways of Arabs. However there are similarities.  Our nation is an exporter of petroleum and natural gas just like the Persian gulf states. Just like Bedouins of the Middle East, our people have camels which graze on sturdy desert plants, and moving in herds from well to well. However most Camels in our nation are two humped Bactrians and not Dromedaries. And we have snow annually falling onto the desert sand. And that’s how our desert areas get most of their precipitation. When the snow melts the desert becomes alive for a couple of weeks.

Still this moisture  is not enough to properly recharge our aquifers, so Kazakhstan is a water stressed country, just like every country in the Arab World. In fact almost every muslim majority country is dry and water stressed. That’s actually an important factor

pushing muslim migrants to water abundant Europe.In case of Kazakhstan this factor promotes movement of Ethnic Kazakhs from dry  Southern regions to relatively moist North. However, all the most dense areas of the country are in the river valleys of the South,  where farmers have lived for millennia. More on those farmers in next post.

 

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