The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and, particularly, one of its structural departments - the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IESCO) declared Bishkek the capital of Islamic culture in 2014. Only few Kyrgyzstanis know that OIC, existing from 1969, consists of 57 countries, including Kyrgyzstan and the project of choosing Islamic culture capital is implemented annually since 2005. Medina city (The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) passed the baton to Bishkek this year.
The Minister of Culture Sultan Rayev stated at briefing, devoted to this event, that although Kyrgyzstan is secular country, nevertheless it is a part of Muslim world. He noted that Baku and Dushanbe received the similar status in CIS. The other secular city Almaty will get this status in 2015.
"We aren't going to impose Islam. It is a cultural and humanitarian project, which will raise not religious, but world issues. Roundtable discussions, conferences, international cinema festival will be held," he said. 24.kg news agency decided to ask the respondents, what is their attitude towards Bishkek immersion into an Islamic culture.
Vyacheslav Shapovalov, translator of Turkish and the European poetry, political scientist in the sphere of ethnic conflicts, Professor:
- I deeply respect the great religion and ancient cultural phenomenon, called Islam. Yes, some time ago, the Islamic culture was unprecedentely ahead of the wildish Christianity of the Middle Ages with its hysteric Crusades. But the normads- berbers destroyed the classical Islam many years ago, the Alhambra culture was forced out from Europe, and the Turkish empire did not manage to rise the genuine spirit of Islam. As a result, this religion, which earlier symbolized the wits and humanity of the mankind, became more retarded, aggressive and in the second half of the 20th century radical Islam clashed with the global terrorism: the Christians passed the baton of history to the Muslims. These are, leastwise, my general idea about it.
Answering your question, I can not erase from my memory a capital punishment for a writer Salman Rushdi for his the Satanic Verses, delivered by the Islamists. If you remember, publication of the travesty of the Prophet Muhammad caused a remarkable aggression all over the world. I radically disapproved all these disgraceful liberals- authors.
In general, the Islam, which nowadays returned to Europe, is unacceptable ideology for me. Let it be on the conscience of those botchers and fools, which represent the governments of the European Union with their wonderful concept of multiculturalism, which causes aggression. And still there are growing and spreading Al-Qaeda and Taliban organizations in the Islamic world and our youth continues enrolling the Arab terrorist groups, (have you read about a Kazakh family?) any contacts of kind and hospitable Kyrgyzstan with this world are alarming and dangerous. A small Kyrgyzstan on the edge of Taliban volcano is weak and poor and not even Russia (and America, of course) is not able to save it if its waves cover our land. And let our radicals, who trustfully and passionately play these wild games, know : they will never become local religious upper class- they will be deceived, they are just ashes, construction material for those who will come from camps, training militants. Can it be true that the Arab spring did not give you a lesson?
All the said above forces me look with utmost distrust at any projects, including the declaration of Bishkek the capital of the Islamic world. I did not see what is behind this beautiful cover. But the danger of gradual seizure of spiritual power is obvious. The power is almost seized in fact...
But, after all, I like the classical Islamic culture, poetry of Koran, music of prayers, arrows of minarets, intelligence and beauty. But what is hiding behind it today?..
Dastan Bekeshev, MP:
- I do not see anything bad in such event. It is not directed at promotion of destructive actions, it has no aim to humiliate people with other religious views. Discussion of religious topics will bring nothing bad. On the contrary, I see the benefit in spiritual education of the society.
Kadyr Malikov, Director of Religion, Right and Politics Analytical Center:
- Kyrgyzstan is a full member of the Islamic Cooperation Organization, like other countries in Central Asia as well as the Russian Federation. Correspondingly, passing the baton to Kyrgyzstan and declaring Bishkek the capital of the Islamic culture in 2014, to my mind, has a number of cultural and geopolitical benefits. It creates conditions for cultural, educational and scientific events with involvement of different countries of the Islamic world, strengthening ties, attraction of investments in intellectual development, creation of platforms for discussions, dialogue and so on. Therewith, the main strategic task is to maximally use this opportunity to provide ideological religious security and sustainable development of Kyrgyzstan. It perfectly fits in the initiatives of the authorities to declare 2014 the year of statehood, create Yiman Spiritual Culture Development Fund and others.
Aziza Okeeva, Director of T.Okeev Fund:
What are the true goals of declaring the capital of Islamic culture and how the other states handled them, we had no information that is why it is difficult to judge about the nature of the initiative clearly. What can we expect from this collaboration? Before taking this status, we should consult the experts and the public.
In my opinion, we should distinguish between Islamic culture and cultural heritage of the teachings of Islam. First of all, we need to keep in mind the cultural aspect, aimed at mutual enrichment of cultures. The task of the status of Islamic culture capital, in my opinion, is in informing the international community, including Islamic one, about the achievements of the city in the scientific, educational and cultural aspects.
But this should be done cleverly, subtly being aware of the sensitivity of the issue. Because we are all afraid of violent or "creeping" Islam and its threats in order we do not get irreversible effect in our weak, but still a secular state.
Borya Globus, Retro FM radio presenter:
- I treat it as the next useful event, having unclear goals (Rayev says nothing about it). In the same way I treat everything which has such words as "spiritual" and "cultural". Vanity of vanities. I do not understand why it worries someone. Ask 50,100 or 1000 of people in the city (including the mayor himself) at the end of the year: "What did we get from Bishkek being the capital of the Islamic world?" Unclear words and rubbing of sweating palms- this is the only result of such initiatives. That is what we will meet the New Year with. I think we have nothing to worry about.
Sherboto Tokombayev, psychotherapist:
-I do not think that the state has right to hold days of any culture with focus on religion- Islamic, Shamanism, Voodoo, Baptist, Zen Buddhism and so on. Because it is the business of private persons or public organizations, but not a secular state and its ministers.
Indira Aslanova, religion scientist at the Center of Religious Studies under the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University:
As it is the only cultural part of religion, the initiative has nothing bad. Islam as the most universal religion has many aspects and thanks to such events the people can get more information about it.
Orozbek Moldaliyev, Chairman of the State Commission on Religious Affairs:
Lately, the unintelligent people started associating Islam with beard and wide trousers. But Islam has rich cultural traditions, it developed and described all the rules-behavior, children upbringing -girl or boy- ethics. Our compatriot Zhusup Balasagyn made Islamic principles the base for his book about life structure.
When a city is announced the center of Islamic culture, it is necessary to hold such events, which will really reflect its cultural side. We have to organize such events, where people can get a lot of useful information and understand that extremism and terrorism are contrary to Islam. We also have to dispel a myth that Islam is not only namaz and Orozo Ait.
Maksat azhi Toktomushev, acting Mufti of Kyrgyzstan:
- It is wrong to associate Islam only with namaz and the holy month Ramadan. It has many cultural values, which we should not only tell about but also demonstrate them. Islam religion has many educational methods. Besides, we should tell how our forefathers treated the religion. Kyrgyzstan is a multinational country and we have to show other nations the good sides of life of different ethnoses and different religions in one state. Speaking on behalf of the Muftiyat I can tell that we support the initiative of announcement Bishkek the capital of Islamic culture.
Emil Dzhumbayev, cinema publicist: -It is a wonderful idea. Islam penetrated into the territory of Kyrgyzstan along with Arab troops in the 7th and 8th centuries. Such historical monuments as Uzgen minaret and mausoleums, Burana tower, Manas kumbez, Shakh-Fazil, Tash-Rabat are related to the Muslim culture. The Kyrgyz started converting to Islam 200-300 years ago, and irrespectively of quality of the Kyrgyz Islam, it has become the part of our mentality and world perception. From the cultural point of view, Kyrgyzstan is Tengri-Muslim country. Meanwhile, it is a large, extremely interesting theme. But I would like to note that culture of Islam can not be taken separately from its doctrine. Secular Islam is a profanation, it is the same as atheist religion. I think exactly the Kyrgyz, not being the Muslim fanatics and understanding what tradition is, could present the most attractive image of Islam- without Western misinterpretations and lie.