Post-Soviet Azerbaijan is the theater of an Islamic revival in the public sphere, a direct consequence of exiting from the empire and achieving independence, which involved the rehabilitation of religion, even the integration of Islam in a new national identitarian policy. Azerbaijan stands out from the rest of the former USSR by the fact that it is the most secularized Muslim country due to its early entrance into Russia’s bosom and the fact that it was long the ground for an ideological clash between the Shiite Persian Empires and the Sunni Ottoman Empire. It is through the convergence of internal factors – a preserved Islam despite the anti-religious Soviet policy – and external factors – the influence of neighboring countries, Turkey, Iran and the Arab world – that Azerbaijani Islam has been reconfigured since the end of the communist era. Eager to preserve the country’s secularity – the pride of the elites – and to ensure that the religious revival does not turn into a source of tension between the two essential components of its population (Shiites and Sunnis), the state has – with difficulty and sometimes a lack of subtlety – set up a religious policy that is far from receiving general approval. However, even if its handling of Islam is disputed, the Azerbaijan government controls the religious phenomenon through a policy that alternates between tolerance and repression.

Zuzanna Olszewska

Though Afghan emigration results from sociopolitical circumstances (drought, changes in the system of government, wars) and from the economic structure (pastoralism, seasonal cycles of productive activities), it is part of a historical continuum of recurrent population movements in the region. Many Afghans, particularly Hazaras, have settled in Iran since the end of the 19th century. Their presence in the country intensified during the 1970s following the Iranian oil boom and the Afghan drought, but also following the political upheavals in Afghanistan since 1978. The Islamic Republic has adopted a changing and rather inconsistent policy to deal with these immigrants, and in a both popular and formal climate of xenophobia the country’s current objective is to repatriate them. Yet, the presence of Afghans on Iranian soil seems irreversible as it satisfies economic needs, reflects the intensity of commercial exchanges between the two countries, and constitutes a complex cross-border social reality. Lastly, the Afghan presence stokes a public and legal debate on how to define citizenship, while it appears to be inherent to the Iranian conception of its own nation.

Rémi Castets

With a substantial Uyghur population, Xinjiang (East Turkistan) is, after Uzbekistan, the second largest Muslim Turkic-speaking area of settlement area in Central Asia. Annexed by China fairly late, this territory has a tumultuous history punctuated by foreign interference and separatist insurrections. Through strict control of the regional political system and a massive influx of Han settlers, the communist regime has managed to integrate this strategic region and its large oil deposits into the rest of China. However, over the past twenty years, unrest in Xinjiang has dramatically intensified. Less familiar to Western countries than the problem of Tibet, the Uyghur question is nevertheless a deeper source of concern for the Chinese authorities. After a long media blackout about this unrest until September 11, 2001, the Chinese government issued a series of documents attempting to depict the Uyghur opposition as an outside terrorist force linked to transnational Islamist terrorist networks. This rhetoric, which portrays the current unrest as a foreign attempt to destabilize the region, conceals a deep socio-political malaise and an opposition that actually takes on a far different shape from the vision official discourse tries to impose.

Emilie René

The concept of "world community" is nowadays very commonly employed by researchers dealing with the social aspects of globalization. At the same time, the words "islam" and "umma" -be they used by medias, politicians or scholars- have sometimes assumed the existence of such a community which is supposed to link all Muslims wherever they live. This kind of approach was strongly revived during the "Rushdie affair": the transnational dimension of the protest against the writer and the very content of ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa furthered it.The starting point of this paper is to take the "world community" postulate at its word. What are we talking about ? Who speaks about it ? Under what circumstances and from which places ? How the limits of this concept can be established, or rather how can it be constructed by the observer to become useful ? These questions are addressed by examining the early stage of the anti-Rushdie protest in its worldwide dimension. It is suggested that an analysis of the understandings and strategies of the mobilized groups, of their symbolic and concrete transnational interactions, as well as a comparison between the social and political national contexts, help to identify the "interpretive community" which was formed at this juncture.