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March 2017

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Kyrgyzstan. Blurred slough of religion

21/04/15 12:27, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency, by Darya PODOLSKAYA, Makhinur NIYAZOVA

Today questions of religious extremism and ethnic intolerance in Central Asia are particularly topical. Experts predict: in the run-up to parliamentary and presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan, politicians will use these factors in pursuit of votes.

Bishkek hosted an international symposium on the theme: "Extremism and Takfiri as a threat to modern society: causes and solutions." Theologians have noted that the threat of terrorism won't slow down, and the situation will worsen in time. "The ideology of extremism develops because of the low level of education, denial of culture, history, traditions, customs, and the politicization of religious issues. Interconfessional and religious conflicts are growing in the world. The blows of extremism and terrorism affect both rich and poor countries. Those who commit it are just hiding behind Islam, although their goals have nothing in common with religion," the chairman of the Committee on Religious Affairs of Kazakhstan Galym Shoikin says.

The reality is that groups of people from different countries are uniting under the flags of terrorist organizations, the same ISIL. Not only Muslim, but even European, where the vast majority of the population is not Muslim. In a relatively short period of time ideologists of terrorism managed to split traditional religions.

"We need measures both within the state and between them. Confronting threats requires international cooperation. However, it is early to talk about the cooperation and joint efforts, because there is confrontation between the states. Necessary to increase religious literacy," Galym Shoikin suggested.

Mufti of Russia Ravil Gainutdin agrees with him. He calls for protection from terrorists, not with weapons, but knowledge. "The ideology of total denial and nihilism imposed by Muslims today, radically contradicts the laws of Islam. It is a threat to all Muslims and humanity in general. Public consensus and dialogue have to put a barrier to these threats," he said.

Secular vs religious

Theologian Kadyr Malikov notes that Kyrgyzstan, as well as the entire Islamic world, faced with the forces that threaten all Muslims, and the events taking place in some Arab countries under the guise of religion, are aimed at discrediting the believers. "There is a third force, who wants to realize its interests using terrorist organizations and religion. But even the word "Islam" means "peace." There are those who oppose the secular to religious one," he said. 

He cited the example of a recent incident in the Kara-Suu, when the teacher didn't let the girl in hijab attend lessons.

"According to sharia, hijab is intended for girls who have reached puberty, adulthood. Neither the school nor the state should oblige to put on or take it off. The ban on the hijab leads to the radicalization of society. It is unknown where this girl will go and what kind of knowledge will get," the expert said. 

Kadyr Malikov agrees that Kyrgyzstan - a secular state, but at the same time recommends not prohibit those who profess Islam, to comply with its canons. Because those who now are expelled from secular schools for wearing headscarves or other attributes of Islamic dress, a priori, are becoming victim of radicals. 

The love of art

However, the residents of the south, who are accused of excessive religiosity, disagree with experts. According to them, analysts strongly exaggerate the influence of religion in this part of the Fergana Valley. The south of the Kyrgyz Republic doesn't deny that there are many believers, but it doesn't mean that all of them are rabid fanatics.

"It is likely that one is trying to stir up ethnic conflict again, but not religious. There are no objective prerequisites, but any provocation, call of some ""popular" leaders to weapons can break spark. In the upcoming election campaign all, I emphasize, all parties will use the "patriotic" factor, everyone will be talking about the love of country, its protection against internal and external enemies. This will be the trump card in the election campaign. At this background, it is possible that in the heat of the patriotic heat someone will cross the line of unlawfulness, which may lead at least to the local pogroms and violence against members of ethnic minorities. Playing on the national consciousness, patriotism - too simple and cheap weapons to achieve certain goals," the journalist Egamberdy Kabulov said.

There is logic in his words. Political organizations have already started election campaign, however, small-scale. One of them even declared "civic nationalism" as its ideology. "No one can really answer what it is. Including the party members. They only repeat in a learned way: one shouldn't perceive the word "nationalism" negatively, it's just love for the country and its people. But it is well known - in world history nothing good happened under nationalist slogans and banners. There is no guarantee that there will be those who understand love of country more radically. There is another factor, which suggests the possibility of fomenting conflict, but with the outside assistance. Now the NGOs, funded by the West, too actively started teaching journalists to a variety of seminars on "coverage of international conflicts." The same thing happened before the June tragedy of 2010," Egamberdy Kabulov recalls.

He believes that such conflicts, especially implicated on interethnic grounds, are necessary as a tool to destabilize situation in the country. "But their disadvantage is that it is too difficult to control and stop them when they spread, when the target has been reached and new government must restore the order. Then there is a need of propaganda mechanism for mitigating the situation and reducing stress. It is no secret that the West is not satisfied with pro-Russian policy of the current authorities, specifically - the country's accession to the EEU. The new parliament with current oppositionists with pro-Western views, could reverse the processes of integration, or, at least, prevent them from developing. Given the propaganda mechanism of current  authorities and does not work, one can organize insignificant conflict, accuse the government of inaction by running its well-organized technology of mass media, and make it real when obedient people come to power. And there just before referendum, limits of the president's power with delegation of his powers to prime minister, and considering the fact that composition of the government change on average once a year and a half, then mess with replacement of the leader of the state will become a permanent phenomenon," Egamberdy Kabulov suggests.

He also noticed some forces that are interested in establishing a protectorate in the state. After all, it is easier to lead from outside by "iron hand" in the countries with endless government crises, and power is replaced every five years.

Wind mills

Prevent ethnic and religious conflict - a direct duty of the security services. However, everyone knows what security officers do. Human rights defenders and lawyers in the south sound the alarm about arbitrary arrests of believers. According to them, it is enough to have at least one booklet or brochure in Arabic at home and you can already be put behind bars. Human rights activists reported that recently a resident of Kara-Suu was sentenced to six years - for keeping of the so-called prohibited literature. The sentence was made by employees of the State Commission for Religious Affairs (SCRA). But whether they have the appropriate level of competence to assess the works written in Arabic script? Human rights activists claim that they don't.

Bir Duino notes that there is no organization licensed to religious expertise in Kyrgyzstan and GKNB is fighting against mythical threats. According to them, expert assessments teachers of foreign languages give expert assessment, without theological education. Based on their findings, people get into prison.

The Head of the SCRA Orozbek Moldaliev complains about deficit of experts. According to him, even staff specialists are very busy. And quite often special services have to address to ... private practitioners for expertise.

Back in December 2014, on the basis of certification of clergymen, Orozbek Moldaliev said that the majority of imams do not have even specialized secondary religious education.

According to him, many showed a low level of knowledge. "As it turned out, many don't have the higher secular education and higher religious education. None of the imam has higher religious education. And many of them, as it turns out, don't have specialized secondary education. Imams have notes that they somewhere received certificates, or finished some courses," Orozbek Moldaliev explains.

The official complained that some imams can not read even Friday prayers up to the mark. "Such facts are observed even among those who graduated from madrasas. People told that one imam finished study in Bukhara in the Soviet period and since then he has not improved his knowledge, didn't raise the level," the official adds.

No matter the cost

Analyzes of experts are not encouraging. It turns out that the a lack of education, lack of ideology in Kyrgyzstan initially favor the emergence of unscrupulous politicians who are ready to sacrifice safety of the country for the sake of a vacant post and instigate interethnic or inter-religious conflict under the guise of love for the fatherland or deep piety. Certain deputies and members of the Cabinet play upon feelings of believers. Those in power are trying to please followers of religions. They always find money and lands for construction of mosques and madrassas. They don't hurry to build school or kindergarten. After all, students and children - not the electorate and they won't vote for politicians in election. But parishioners - another matter.

URL: http://eng.24.kg/politic/175424-news24.html
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«When we ran in the elections, we said that would even get the moon and the sun from the sky ».
MP Kamchybek Joldoshbayev at a meeting of Parliament, February 2, 2017.

«What have you done besides sale of donkeys to China?».
Deputy Ryskeldi Mombekov to the head of State Inspectorate for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Safety Kalysbek Zhumakanov at a meeting of Parliament, February 1, 2017.

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