Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 164

Uzbek president Islam Karimov has issued a decree declaring 1996 a year for celebrating the memory of Tamerlane. The decree acknowledges "numerous public proposals" to that effect as well as UNESCO’s decision to organize commemorative events around Tamerlane’s 660th birth anniversary in 1996. According to the decree, the celebrations should help instill "a sense of national pride and patriotism" among the people of Uzbekistan. A monument to Tamerlane has already replaced the Karl Marx monument in central Tashkent. (16)

Tamerlane (1336-1405), also called Timur Lenk, was the ruler of a large and powerful state centered on Samarkand in present-day Uzbekistan, with considerable military and cultural achievements to its credit. Reaching back to distant history for national symbols represents an important aspect of modern state-building in Central Asia’s post-Soviet countries. Kyrgyzstan, for example, celebrated at great length in 1995 the anniversary of the medieval epic poem Manas for similar reasons. In the eyes of local ruling elite, fostering national identification rooted in secular history has the additional merit of providing an ideological alternative to Islamic fundamentalism.

Kazakh President Objects to Russian Policies.