Islam Exerts Growing Influence on Kyrgyz Politics

Click Here: IWPR – Islam Exerts Growing Influence on Kyrgyz Politics

In an attempt to win public support, Kyrgyz officials are launching increasing numbers of initiatives that reflect Islamic influences – a trend which analysts warn could eventually lead to the erosion of the secular state.

However, a leading public figure – human rights ombudsman Tursunbay Bakir-Uulu, who is a devout Muslim – argues that restoring religious values to public life only makes for a healthier, more ethical society, and rejects claims that this undermines the secular state.As political agendas are increasingly coloured by religious values, some see the growing endorsement of Islam in official life as a contradiction of the principles underlying this post-Soviet republic, whose constitution stipulates that Kyrgyzstan is a secular state.

Last month, for example, the head of the State Agency for Religious Affairs, Toygonbek Kalmatov, announced a special scheme where up to 70 officials will be able to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform the pilgrimage in Mecca under a tax-free arrangement. A number of officials have been making recommendations influenced by Islamic precepts for some time now. One such is Bakir-Uulu, who has drafted a bill that would outlaw abortion. The draft is due to be considered by parliament.Another proposal, to decriminalise polygamy, has already gone before parliament three times.

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