In Afghanistan, Soviet troops are reported on Friday (4 January) to be mustering for what could be a major winter offensive against dissent Moslem tribesmen, particularly in the rugged mountain area bordering Pakistan.
LV PAN Bukhara skyline ZOOM INTO minaret and mosque
GV People at Bukhara market
CU Moslem hats displayed on ground PULL OUT TO GV people in market (3 shots)
GVs Market activity (3 shots)
MV PULL OUT TO WIDE SHOT People seated outdoors, eating and drinking; CU woman holding child (2 shots)
GV AND CUs Moslems in street (3 shots)
MS PULL OUT TO LV Muezzin chanting in Tashkent minaret
PAN DOWN FROM MCU sign on Moslem school in Tashkent TO GV students entering school ground: TRACKING SHOT students entering school (2 shots)
CU INT Moslem tutor PULL OUT TO GV students room
GVs students listening to tutor (4 shots)
GV Tashkent street scene
CU Two Moslem men and Moslem main in street crowd (2 shots)
GV Two girls in western dress in street crowd
GV Moslem man in street; GV street scene: GV street scene with modern building block in back-ground and underpass in foreground (3 shots)
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Background: In Afghanistan, Soviet troops are reported on Friday (4 January) to be mustering for what could be a major winter offensive against dissent Moslem tribesmen, particularly in the rugged mountain area bordering Pakistan. At the same time there are reports from Kabul that President Badrak Karmal has made his first public appearance, at a news conference, to thank the Soviet Union for sending troops to his country. But the Soviet Union's involvement in Afghanistan has also brought condemnation from other parts of the Moslem world, and has brought into focus again the role of the Moslems within the Soviet Union itself.
SYNOPSIS: The town of Bukhara, in the Soviet Central Asian state of Uzbekistan, is one of the centres of Moslem culture that underlines the reality facing the Kremlin. Latest census figures show that one in five Soviet citizens is a Moslem.
With more than 45 million Moslems, the Soviet Union is probably the fifth Moslem power in the world after Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. And the Moslem community is growing at a rapid rate. In Central Asia, where three quarters of the Moslems live, their population in eleven years has increased by fifty percent, compared with just over fifteen percent for the whole of the Soviet Union. Some predictions say that Islamic population may outnumber the Slavs by the end of the century.
Besides the increasing numerical strength of the Moslem community, is their resistance to being assimilated by Soviet culture. The majority still pursue the Moslem way of life, inspite of the anti-religious propaganda of the Stalin regime.
The Stalinist attempts to destroy the Islamic religion were, it is generally accepted, largely fruitless, although thousands of mosques fell into disrepair or were closed. But freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Soviet constitution and the Moslems insist on their rights. They even maintain religious training schools, like this one at Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan. They serve to train Islamic Imams and Mullahs: one of the forces that have helped to preserve the unique character of the Soviet Moslems.
It is relevant to note that since the early medieval period, the cities of Central Asia have bred some of Islam's finest thinkers and scientists, and was a focal point for the eastern world. So it remained, in spite of frequent feuds and wars until the Tsarist forces annexed it. Now the Soviet territories are largely isolated from the rest of the Islamic world. Nevertheless, some reports from the region in recent months claim Soviet sociologists have noted an increase in religious observance in the Moslem areas. But according to a recent Reuter report, leaders of the Soviet Moslems have rejected the idea of following the militancy of Iran's new leaders. One said: "We welcome the Iranian revolution, but the problem there is social, and we already have our revolutionary gains."