CREES Noon Lecture. “Muslims for an Atheist Superpower: The Central Asian Muftiate and Pro-Soviet Public Diplomacy in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, 1970s-1980s.”
Eren Murat Tasar, lecturer in history and post-doctoral fellow, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University. Sponsor: CREES.
It has been commonly assumed that Soviet policymakers regarded Islam in Central Asia as a threat, especially after the Afghan invasion and the Iranian Revolution. Yet the Soviet state relied heavily on an Islamic organization to promote its image in the Muslim world throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The Central Asian muftiate undertook pro-Soviet propaganda activities with particular zeal and impressive scope in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia during these two decades. Its prominence in Soviet public diplomacy in both countries suggests the need to reconceptualize the landscape of Islam and the state in Central Asia under Brezhnev, Andropov, and beyond.
Eren Tasar is a lecturer in Central Asian history at the Department of History, Harvard University. He holds degrees from Harvard and Stanford, and has worked in international development in Central Asia.