Monday, September 24, 2007

Islam exerts growing influence on Kyrgyz politics

by Tolkun Namatbaeva from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Bishkek-based political analyst Natalya Shadrova said state officials must remember that Kyrgyzstan is a secular state, and should not dabble in religion or woo faith organisations for populist reasons ... Since it became independent in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has seen an explosion in the number of mosques from just 39 to about 2,500. Shadrova is insistent that politicians should not use their public positions to build mosques. Doing this is, she said, tantamount to buying votes ... Alymbekov does not agree that the country faces the threat of a religious revolution. "There's nothing wrong with it if that's what every individual wants, but if it's imposed, there will be conflicts," he said. Bakir-Uluu dismissed such concerns as scaremongering, saying, "There is no need to fear religion or religious people. You should fear those who do not believe, who fear neither God nor the Devil."

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