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, AUCA Cafeteria)

113 – 14,45 / Session 1 (Room 410): The Challenges of Religious Pluralism

Welcome by Academic Authorities: Andrew WACHTEL, President AUCA; 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

15-16,30 / Session 2 / (Room 410): Return of Religion to the Public Sphere and Problems

Chair: Eileen BARKER (London School of Economics)
The Constitutional Challenge of Islam in Central Asia, Emilbek JOROEV (AUCA)
Gulen, Turkish Islamists in General, and Competing Visions of How to Rule a "Democratic" Turkey,  Ilker CORUT (AUCA)
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kazakhstan and Their Problems: An Overview, Willy FAUTRÉ (Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels)

16,30-18 / Session 3 / (Room 410): Religious Extremism in the Post-Soviet Era

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, Emil NASRITDINOV  (AUCA) and Zarina URMANBETOVA (AUCA)

18 - / Dinner on your own


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

9 – 10,45 / 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)

10,45 – 11 / Coffee Break

11 – 12,45 / Session 5 / (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)

12,45 – 14,45/ Lunch (Arabesque):

14,45 – 16,15 / Session 6 / (Room 410): Religious Pluralism, Ethnic Heterogeneity, New Spiritualities, and “Dangerous and Totalitarian Sects” So-Called

Chair: Holly FOLK (Western Washington University)
Jehovah’s Pluralism: Ethnic Heterogeneity in a Monistic Religious Context, Danny CARDOZA (University of Cambridge)
Understanding the New Spirituality in Kyrgyzstan: An Investigation into Yoga Practices, Sentiments, and Lifestyles, Olga KHADRO (AUCA)
Caught in the Religio-Political Crossfire: The Mormon (Non)Presence in Central Asia, Clyde R. FORSBERG JR. (AUCA)

16,15 – 16,30 / Coffee Break

16,30 – 18,30 / Session 7 / (Room 410): Being Religious in the Post-Soviet Era: Participants Tell Their Stories

Chair: Rosita ŠORYTE (ORLIR)
How Gender Inequality Contributes to the Subjugation of Women in Afghanistan, Farhad SHAYAN (AUCA)
Sexual Objectification and the Hijab, Tasneem ALSAYYED (AUCA)
Being Baha’i in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, Shirin Abdullaeva (AUCA)
Being Pentecostal/Assemblies of God in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, Rebekah Wright (AUCA). 
Being (and Not Being) Mormon in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, Marlis Esenakulov (AUCA)

19 – / Banquet and Jazz Concert: Studio 247, Kyrgyz Ethno-Jazz Band, Aura, Talai Basheev with Clyde Forsberg

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

10 – 16 / Post-Conference Day Trip and Tour: Burana Tower, Museum, and Petroglyphs (Lunch Provided)

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