Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia

By Adeeb Khalid | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Soviet Assault on Islam

On February 23, 1917, in the middle of the third winter of a brutal war, riots broke out in Russia’s capital, Petrograd. It was international women’s day, a major holiday celebrated by socialist parties all over Europe, and women workers poured into the streets to protest the shortage of bread. They were joined by many men who were already on strike. Banners demanding bread were quickly joined by red flags and inscriptions that read, “Down with Autocracy.” The empress Alexandra thought it all of little consequence: “Its a hooligan movement,” she wrote to her husband then away at field headquarters, “young boys & girls running about & screaming that they have no bread— … if it were very cold they wld. probably stay in doors. But this will all pass & quieten down….”1 But the crowds did not quieten down. Almost three years of war had rotted the ties that bound Russian society together and had undermined the legitimacy of the monarchy. The crowds continued to make ever more radical demands for political change. On the fifth day of rioting, officers from elite regiments refused to obey orders to shoot at the demonstrators; on the seventh, Nicholas, tsar of all the Russias and heir to a political tradition that dated back several centuries, abdicated. The Russian monarchy had ceased to exist.

The collapse of the monarchy unleashed a massive upheaval that was to convulse the length and breadth of the Russian empire for several years, shaking the many societies within it to their core. The numerous strains that had lain latent between and within various societies of the

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Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps and Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Islam in Central Asia 19
  • Chapter 2 - Empire and the Challenge of Modernity 34
  • Chapter 3 - The Soviet Assault on Islam 50
  • Chapter 4 - Islam as National Heritage 84
  • Chapter 5 - The Revival of Islam 116
  • Chapter 6 - Islam in Opposition 140
  • Chapter 7 - The Politics of Antiterrorism 168
  • Conclusion - Andijan and beyond 192
  • Afterword 204
  • Glossary 211
  • Notes 213
  • Select Bibliography 235
  • Index 243
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