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Digital Sketches

digital citizen media, ict with a focus on Central Asia and the Middle East.

Tag Archives: book media central asia Turkmenistan

The Ruhnama (book of the soul) is in the West an unknown book. But for most youngsters in Turkmenistan it is the only book they know, sometimes even by heart. It is taught on every school and is supposed to be the most important and most of the times only schoolbook.  Every student should have read the book several times, according to Saparmurat Turkmenbashi, late president-for-life of Turkmenistan.  The book describes his life and experiences. Pages are filled with advice for the right Turkmen lifestyle according to the president and of course according to Allah.  Former president Turkmenbashi processed his biography along with his ideological ideas in this book. After his death, the personality cult and the strange rules he set hardly diminished.

Last year I attended the screening of Shadow of the Holy book at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) . The film of investigative journalist Arto Halonen shows that companies such as Nokia, Siemens and John Deere have to organize a translation of the Ruhnama in their language, in order to get approval for doing business in Turkmenistan.  The film exposes the immorality of international companies doing business with the dictatorship of oil-and-gas-rich Turkmenistan. English, French and German translations of the book exist but would there also be a Dutch edition, I wondered. After some half-heartily search on the internet, the question vanished to the background.

Until two weeks ago……

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