(KU.edu) A University of Kansas researcher has developed a framework to analyze how governments can use religion in different ways to legitimize their own power.
"Religion has been used as a source of unity and peace but also a source of war and conflict, and toward uniting diverse groups within a state or highlighting differences," said Mariya Omelicheva, associate professor of political science. "But in the end, religion, like ideology, just provides this raw material for those who are in power or who are challenging or seeking power to legitimize their claims to it. Because power is so ubiquitous and so pervasive, any materials out there can be ignited."
Omelicheva published the framework in her study "Islam and power legitimation: Instrumentalisation of religion in Central Asian States," which will appear in the journal Contemporary Politics. She researched speeches by government leaders in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and news articles in non-U.S. newspapers and wire services, all from 1992 to 2015.
She found that authoritarian leaders Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Uzbek President Islam Karimov generally would employ different interpretations of Islam to benefit their own goals, in particular national-building aims to strengthen their own grips on power.
Omelicheva identified four presentations used by the governments to “frame” Islam through their public statements and actions: traditional, official, radical or foreign, and moderate or modern. […]
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