Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Freak Watch - Saparmurat Niyazov

Kim Jong Il is not the only freak in town. There is also President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan. In a style that is a combination of the worst of Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il he has established a personality cult and written a holy book of his own. Amnesty International was able to take its attention off of the United States and Israel long enough to say this in an old article dated September 12th, 2003;
"Away from international public scrutiny President Niyazov freely pursues his personality cult. Today is Rukhnama day in Turkmenistan, a public holiday celebrating the President's "holy" book Rukhnama (Book of the Soul) -- which he compares to the Bible and the Koran; he claims that the book 'was born in (his) heart through the will of the Almighty' and that Turkmen people should live their lives according to this book."

Everyone has to know parts of the Rukhnama by heart. Pupils, students, teachers and prisoners have to recite paragraphs of the book on many occasions. In order to pass the entry exams for universities, students have to answer questions about the Rukhnama. Prisoners have been denied release because they refused to swear the oath of allegiance to the President on the Rukhnama.
Ok, so old news, right? Wrong, according to Forum 18 the Niyazov freak is still at it.

On March 1st, 2005 Forum 18 reports, TURKMENISTAN: President's personality cult imposed on religious communities.
Amongst pressures on religious communities is a government-enforced cult of President Niyazov's personality. Forum 18 News Service has learnt that Muslims face mounting pressure to venerate the president's two volume ideological book, the Ruhnama (Book of the Soul), while Russian Orthodox churches must have a minimum of two copies of the Ruhnama. One government minister claimed that the Ruhnama would make up for shortcomings in both the Bible and the Koran, neither of which were, he claimed, fully adequate for the spiritual needs of Turkmens. The personality cult includes a massive mosque decorated with quotations from the Ruhnama, a gold statue in Ashgabad that revolves to follow the sun and a monument to the Ruhnama. Also important in the President's cult are his books of poetry, and Muslim clerics were last month told that "it was a priority task for clergymen to disseminate the lofty ideas in our great leader's sacred books on the duties of parents and children."
We ignore these freaks at our peril.

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