CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne

Co-organized by:
American University of Central Asia The General Education Department
Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR)

Religion and Civil Society in the Post-Soviet Era: Central Asia and Beyond

American University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
19-20 March 2018



Monday, 19 March 2018

12 – 13 / Registration (Sandwiches)

13 – 14,45 / Session 1 – Plenary (Atrium)
The Challenges of Religious Pluralism
Welcome by Academic Authorities: Duane LACEY, General Education, AUCA
Presiding and Introductions: Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR)
The Honeymoon and After, Eileen BARKER (London School of Economics)
Manas Meets Mankurt: The “Problem” of New Religions in Kyrgyzstan, Clyde R. FORSBERG JR. (AUCA)
Music and Dance of the Kyrgyz Republic, Mariya NAUNOVA (AUCA)

14,45-15 / Coffee Break

15-17,15 / Session 2 / (Room 410)
Return of Religion to the Public Sphere During the Post-Soviet Period, Politics, and Civil Society

Chair: Eileen BARKER (London School of Economics)
The Return of Religion to the Public Sphere During the Post-Soviet Period in Russia, Fatemeh Delavari PARIZI (University Of Tehran), Mohsen Delavari PARIZI (University Of Tehran), and Zeinab Yousefi ZADEH (University Of Tehran)
The constitutional challenge of Islam in Central Asia, Emilbek JOROEV (AUCA)
Hungarian Neopaganism and Civil Society: An Ethnographic Approach, Viola TEISENHOFFER (LabEx HASTEC/GSRL, Paris)

17,15-19 / Session 3 / (Room 410)
Emergence of Religious Radicalism in the Post-Soviet Period: Religious Freedom and the Law

Chair: Clyde R. FORSBERG JR. (AUCA)
Threatening Factors in the Formation of Civil Society in Central Asia and Its Impact on the Growth of Extremist Islamism in the Post-Soviet Period‎, Amir IMANI (Marmara University)
Religious Radicalism, Extremism and Terrorism: A Legal Analysis, Kunserkin
ZHANGAZY (Soros Foundations, Kazakhstan, Board of Trustees)
Young People's Vulnerability and Resilience to Radical Religious Ideas in Kyrgyzstan: Evidences Across Multiple Sectors 
Gulen, Turkish Islamists in General, and Competing Visions of How to Rule a "Democratic" Turkey,  Ilker CORUT (AUCA)

19 - / Dinner on your own


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

9 – 10,30 /
Session 4 / Panel (Room 410)
Scientology in the Post-Soviet Era: The Cases of Hungary and Russia

Chair: Willy FAUTRÉ (Human Rights without Frontiers, Brussels)
The Social Construction of “Extremism” in Russia: From the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Church of Scientology, Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR)
The Provisions against Religious Extremism as an Instrument for Outlawing Religious Minorities in Russia: The Case of the Church of Scientology, Boris FALIKOV (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow)
Religious Discrimination and State Neutrality: The Case of Scientology in Hungary, Patricia DUVAL (Attorney, Paris Bar)
Respondent: Eric ROUX (Church of Scientology)

10,30 – 10,45 / Coffee Break
10,45 – 12,30 / Session 5 / Panel (Room 410)
Religious Liberty and Anti-Cult Campaigns in China: The Case of The Church of Almighty God

Chair: Eileen BARKER (London School of Economics)
“Sinicization” of Religion and Xie Jiao in China: The Case of The Church of Almighty God, Massimo INTROVIGNE (CESNUR)
Protestant Legacies in The Church of Almighty God, Holly FOLK (Western Washington University)
Religion-based Refugee Claims: The Case of The Church of Almighty God, Rosita ŠORYTE (President, ORLIR / International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees)
The Church of Almighty God: Persecution in China, Refugee Problems Abroad, Willy FAUTRÉ (Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels)

12,30 – 13:30 Lunch (Arabesque)

Parallel Sessions

13:30 – 15 / Session 6 / Panel (Room 410)
History, Modernity, Religious Tolerance, and Maintaining Good Relations with the State (or Else)

Chair: Holly FOLK (Western Washington University)
Jehovah's Witnesses in the Republic of Kazakhstan—History, Modernity. and Relations with the State, Artur ARTEMYEV, Vladimir IVANOV, and  Naylya MARATOVNA
Locating Religious Tolerance: Seeking Democracy through Horizontal Equality in Post-Soviet Russia, Vrutant MANWATKAR (JNU, New Delhi)
Jehovah’s Pluralism: Ethnic Heterogeneity in a Monistic Religious Context, Danny CARDOZA (University of Cambridge)

13,30 - 15  / Session 7 / (Room TBA)
The Emergence of Paganism and Neo-Paganism in Central Asia and Beyond

Chair: Boris FALIKOV (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow)
Understanding the New Spirituality in Kyrgyzstan: An Investigation into Yoga Practices, Sentiments, and Lifestyles, Olga KHADRO (AUCA), Jamilia Jeenbaeva (AUCA)
Caught in the Religio-Political Crossfire: The Mormon (Non)Presence in Central Asia, Clyde R. FORSBERG JR. (AUCA)
Secularism as a Tool of Unity in Diversity: Glimpses from India, Ved Pal Singh DESWAL (M.D.University, Rohtak, India)

15 – 15,15 / Coffee Break

Parallel Sessions

15,15 – 17 / Session 8 / (Room 410)
Minority Religions, “Discrimination by the Book,” and the Kyrgyz Republic: Baha’is, Baptists, and Mormons Tell Their Stories

Chair: Willy FAUTRÉ (Human Rights without Frontiers, Brussels)
Christopher Swartz (AUCA)
Shirin Abdullaeva (AUCA)
Rebekah Wright (AUCA)
Marlis Esenakulov (AUCA)

15,15 – 17 / Session 9 / (Room TBA)
The Islamic Mainstream in Central Asia and Beyond: Gender Inequality in Afghanistan, Subjugation of Women, and Emergence of the Hijab in “Liberal/Democratic” Kyrgyzstan

Chair: Rosita ŠORYTE (President, ORLIR / International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees)
How Gender Inequality Contributes to the Subjugation of Women in Afghanistan, Farhad, SHAYAN (AUCA)
I Wear the Hijab; but I am not that Religious, Actually, Soheila NOORI (AUCA)
Sexual Objectification and the Hijab, Tasneem ALSAYYED (AUCA)
AUCA Student Respondent(s)

19 – 21 / Banquet / (Arabesque)

Presiding: Clyde R. FORSBERG JR. (AUCA)
Plenary Speaker: (TBA)

Post-Conference City Tour and Beyond: The Religious and Political Heritage of Bishkek

Participants will leave Bishkek at 9 am (Wednesday, March 21) from the campus of the American University of Central Asia to visit a variety of local religious houses of worship, travelling outside the city by bus to visit Kyrgyzstan’s famous Pre-Islamic and Islamic holy sites in Ala-Archa and Tokmok. The tour will conclude in time for dinner in the city of everyone’s choosing by 6 pm.
CESNUR will not handle accommodations. Be advised that the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) is located on the southern edge of the city. Bishkek is not a large city, to be sure, but lodging downtown will entail a 30-45-minute taxi ride, depending on traffic. Taxis are NOT expensive—the average fare from downtown to the university will cost on  average 4 – 5 USD. The local currency, the “com” (pronounced som), trades at roughly 69 com to the dollar. Be sure to trade enough dollars, or Euros, into enough coms to pay for your taxi and other services you may require. The cost to take a taxi from the airport to any part of the city is 600 com or 9 – 10 dollars. The hotels in Bishkek are not expensive by European and American standards. Those who wish to lodge downtown, and for whom money is not an issue, would be  advised to stay at the Hilton Regency (€194), although the Plaza Hotel (€83) is just as nice and not nearly as expensive.  Bishkek has an assortment of Hostels for those who, like me, prefer to bunk on the cheap as a rule. The best and only choice really for those who want to lodge as close to the university as possible would be the Jannet Regency, although it is very, very expensive, indeed. I would suggest the Southside Guest House, instead (€100)--about a third of the cost of the Jannet Regency. See the link below and decide for yourself, of course. For any questions and help, feel free to email me, Clyde Forsberg, at clydeforsberg4@msn.com.


 Advance Registration and Payment
Conference fee, including lunch, banquet and tour: €125
Central Asian and Iranian Scholars and Students (attending banquet not the tour): € 20
Please complete the Registration Form