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Ketman (Arabic kitmān كتمان "secrecy, concealment") is the act of paying lip service to authority while holding personal opposition. It is a sort of political or religious camouflage, for the purpose of survival, in circumstances where open opposition would result in persecution. Ketman can be practised through many generations, and eventually erupt in the form of revolutions, uprisings, etc.

Though the term was originally used exclusively in regard to Islamic authority, the term is most frequently encountered in reference to Communist authoritarianism.


The term originates in Persia, and was studied in Gobineau's book Religions and Philosophies of Central Asia. Czesław Miłosz in his book The Captive Mind makes parallels between Ketman and the act of public hypocrisy (that is, publicly professing orthodoxy, while privately believing heterodoxy with the hope of one day being in a position of authority to spread one's hidden ideas) in the name of individual conscience under the Communist régimes of post-war Europe.

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