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March 2017

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Hijab in Kyrgyzstan and religious extremism through the eyes of professor Rohe

21/05/15 07:23, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency, by Aizada KUTUEVA

Mathias Rohe - international expert on religion, professor. The Head of the Centre for Islam and the Law in Europe. He lectures on religious education in Islam. Several years worked as judge in the highest court of the land the city of Nuremberg. He was invited to visit Kyrgyzstan in the framework of the public discussion of the situation in the religious sector. Today, Mathias Rohe answers questions of 24.kg news agency.

- During the years of Kyrgyzstan's sovereignty, proclaiming itself as a secular state, in fact, let religious sphere to take its course. As a result, we are faced with a number of threats and challenges. What do you think about the situation in Kyrgyzstan?

- Taking part in the discussion of the situation in the religious sphere, I realized that you have rather liberal legislation. At the same time there is a problem of religious extremism, which should be overcome. Many people are leaving to the Gulf countries for participation in hostilities that affect security.

- You called our liberal legislation. Is it necessary to tighten it?

- It shouldn't be tighten, by no means. Religious communities should cooperate with state agencies, work together. For example, this can be done through the education system, but not by force.

- How do Islamist calls affect the situation in Europe? For example, the recent events in France connected with "Charlie Hebdo" magazine...

- In recent years, in Germany and Europe as a whole there were fears that are attributed as crimes and terrorist acts of extremists of Muslim origin. It is regrettable that a small number of people discredit Islam and complicate the lives of millions of peaceful Muslims in Europe, who reject such abuse of their religion. We need to distinguish between short-term and long-term responses to emerging threats. In the first case it is necessary to take safety measures. If we know that our citizens are going to Syria, it is necessary to take away their passports, along with other measures. In the long term - to make everything that people don't participate in the fighting. We must take care of moral care of the soul. A certain degree of religious education may be important for people who live in the border situation. This applies, for example, the military, but especially in prisoners. Often young people radicalized under the influence of adults. In such cases spiritual mentors are needed.

- How many Muslims live in Germany?

- About 4 million, or about 5 percent of the population. At least 2,600 mosques opened, and their number is growing. Muslims build them mainly on their own funds and therefore no one limits them.

- Does it puzzle the country's authorities somehow? The Kyrgyz Republic sometimes expresses dissatisfaction with too many mosques.

- This trend is not serious, because the mosque - a spiritual institution, and they are even given privileges. Their appearance can disturb only when they spread radical ideas. I understand the concerns in Kyrgyzstan about lots of mosques, which are usually financed worldwide by Saudi Arabia, the country where religion is not very tolerant. I believe that Kyrgyzstan should combine Islam and national traditions.

- The KR has a lot of controversies because of the hijab - girls put it on when going to school. Or men changed secular clothes on non-traditional for the Kyrgyz...

- In some European countries, such clothing is prohibited. Germany is tolerant to the same headscarf. It's part of human freedom. But I'm against it, when, as in Tunisia, for example, all women are forced to wear headscarves. In general, I believe that if there is no threat of such garment, it is necessary to leave everything as is.

- How poverty affects the radicalization of Islam? The analysis shows that increased the number of rich, educated women, who began to share radical ideas.

- Poverty not always facilitates the radicalization of Islam, but it has some of the factors that contribute to this. The experience in Germany shows: 80 percent of the citizens in difficult circumstances are being radicalized. Or the youth who has no prospects. The same Salaphites approach to them, convince that will help them find the meaning of life. But there are quite rich people who have extreme views, considering that Muslims are infringed worldwide.

 -It turns out that traditional clergy loses?

-The fact is that they know very well how to talk to young people, communicate with the media. For example, there are special websites in Syria. They are in public domain. However, I do not advise to visit them, because all security services monitor. I go there, but they know that I do it for my work.

-Do you collaborate with the secret services?

-Yes, I work with them. For example, after the events of September 11 I received a call from the chief of the Bavarian police. He and his staff would like to cooperate with religious experts.

-How many people in Germany are involved in combat operations in Syria? This figure in our country exceeds 350 people.

-At least 700 people left Germany, but this number is increasing. About 200 people have already returned, about 90 were killed.

-Law enforcement bodies of Kyrgyzstan are going to win the right to block extremist websites without a court decision. Will this measure help in fight against extremism and terrorism?

-This is a fight against windmills. You close today one website, another will open tomorrow. Those same Americans have their own idea of freedom of speech. For example, in Nevada there are neo-Nazi organizations that maintain their websites. We have told the U.S. for many times about this, but they did not respond. So I think that the measure of your law enforcement will not help. Prevention is much more important.

-How can you prevent recruitment of citizens?

-To create good websites by yourself, the same Muftiyat, government, to conduct explanatory work through them: what are the canons of traditional Islam, the concept of jihad, much more.

An important question - religious education and its quality. The priests may not possess extensive knowledge, but they should at least call for peace. We need theologians with a good education in order they to write books, teach students the canons of traditional religions.

-I must admit that the Kyrgyz Republic has very low educational potential of religious leaders.

-Uneducated priests - a big problem. It is necessary to ensure that they were available for specialized education. At the same time the secular state can not interfere in matters of religion. But it can set a framework of religious education, which can not be exceeded.

-Now the youth began to actively attend mosques. Many are leaving to study abroad. What do you think, how radical become their views after returning home?

-Here I would advise only cooperate more with countries such as Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, which have developed moderate Islam.

-In 2010, when the Constitution was adopted, there were debates to the last on whether to prescribe the secular character of the state. Then this rule was defended. Now there is concern that this rule may become unconstitutional with new amendments...

-The German Constitution does not states that it is a secular state, but it follows from its content that it is secular. We proclaimed ourselves a democratic law-governed state, so that it already includes our secularism.

-The Kyrgyz Republic provides criminal penalties for those, who preach the rules of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Do you have the same tough punishment?

 -Yes. 14 years ago, the activities of this organization was banned in Germany.

-Does the ISIL relate to Hizb ut-Tahrir, or it was created by other extremist forces?

-Hizb ut-Tahrir is the spiritual inspiration of the ISIL. But if we compare them, the first organization has a higher intellectual level.

-Once, one of our deputies said that if the Hizb ut-Tahrir program has is the ideals of world caliphate and the organization is pursued for it, then it is necessary to prohibit communism as well, which promotes the idea of the world proletariat...

-I have studied the program of Hizb ut-Tahrir, it contradicts the norms of democratic states. We have a Communist Party in the European parliaments. They try to act within the framework of democracy. If they had tried to go beyond that, it would also be prohibited. Although it should be noted that the activities of the Communist Party was banned in West Germany in 1956.

URL: http://eng.24.kg/politic/175781-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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