Collection: LMCO 2021 / Week of Prayer 2021 Day 5

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen reclaimed their Islamic identity. However, the government of Turkmenistan strictly regulates religious expression, guarding against fundamental Islam as well as suppressing other belief systems.

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Like many people around the world, Turkmen struggled to make a living during the COVID-19 pandemic. Turkmen who work abroad as migrant laborers lost income which normally goes to help relatives in Turkmenistan.

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Turkmenistan became an independent country after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. In reestablishing their unique identity, Turkmen welcomed a new flag that reflects their history of carpet making and Islamic tradition.

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Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, lies on the edge of the Karakum Desert, about 20 miles from the Iranian border. Billions of dollars have been spent on architectural projects that obscure the realities of poverty and lack of freedom experienced by the Turkmen people.

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While the government of Turkmenistan is wary of outsiders, on a personal level, the Turkmen people are hospitable toward visitors.

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Turkmen women struggle to understand what healthy relationships look like. Divorce is common, particularly among women who have left their families in search of work abroad.

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Memorialized in Ashgabat’s Park of Independence, Saparmurat Niyazov served as the first president of Turkmenistan from 1991 and until his death in 2006. The authoritarian leader renamed the days of the week, months of the year and numerous places after himself or family members.

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Family relationships in Turkmenistan are often fractured when parents leave their children in the care of relatives in order to move abroad as migrant laborers. Many Turkmen have moved to places like Turkey and Russia in order to find work.

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