In case you didn’t know, language politics are a hotly contested issue across post-Soviet Central Asia. Russian is often urban and prestigious, but associated with Russian and Soviet aggression, while local languages (Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, and others) are associated with nationalist movements.
Italian-born Son Pascal has decided — for better or for worse — that Kazakhs “should speak Kazaksha [Kazakh].” Does he have a right to enter into this controversy?
The language question will continue to spark heated debate in Kazakhstan for years to come with or without Son Pascal. But this is a question for the citizens of Kazakhstan and their leadership to resolve. A twenty-something Italian singer-songwriter—who, as he recently admitted in an interview with Global Voices, is just starting to study Kazakh—can’t solve it. And he should understand that his job is to stay out of the debate, unless he feels that someone’s human rights are being blatantly trampled upon.