Uproar in Kyrgyzstan over dog wearing national hat

Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) (AFP) –


Lawmakers in Kyrgyzstan urged punishment Thursday for the owner of a dog pictured wearing one of the Central Asian country's traditional felt hats in a dog show.

Lawmakers joined a growing chorus of voices in slamming the "insult" and police this week said they had started investigating the show, that was held in the capital Bishkek earlier this month.

Tazabek Ikramov of the opposition Onuguu-Progress party demanded authorities bring the owner to justice for "insulting" the revered "Ak Kalpak" pointed hat, which is honoured by its own national day.

Ikramov's call was echoed by a fellow lawmaker in a parliamentary session on Thursday.

"We put our national symbol on a dog. They made a dog Kyrgyz, and a Kyrgyz a dog," fumed Ryskeldi Mombekov, an MP for the governing Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan.

"Tomorrow a pig will wear a Kalpak and the national flag will be used as cat litter," Mombekov added.

Several public figures have also signed a petition urging authorities to punish the dog owner and the organisers of the dog show.

Since a popular uprising in 2010, politicians in the impoverished country have focused keen attention on matters of national identity and culture.

In 2011, a statue of a woman holding aloft the symbolic "tunduk", the criss-crossed centrepiece of a yurt, was torn down amid arguments that it was a bad omen for a female to do so.

The same year lawmakers ritually slaughtered seven sheep in parliament to exorcise "evil spirits" from the turbulent political past.

The ex-Soviet republic saw a bloody uprising and ethnic violence leave hundreds dead in 2010, five years after the country's first authoritarian president, Askar Akayev, was ejected from power following street protests.