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With rise of conservative Islam in Kyrgyzstan, country's liberals question how far religious freedom should go

With rise of conservative Islam in Kyrgyzstan, country's liberals question how far religious freedom should go

Mosque in  KyrgyzstanIslam is on the rise in many central Asian republics, Russia Today reports.

In Kyrgyzstan, which has prided itself on being a secular republic, religion is on the rise in politics and in society.

The country of about 5 1/2 million people has been seeing a dramatic rise in conservative Islam over the past decade.  It already has a little over 2,000 mosques.  Up to 80% of them were built with some type of partnership with Arab countries, and the government knows little about what is taught in them.

In its public schools, religious wear is prohibited.  Muslim students cannot wear full veils in public school, so they either quit school altogether or go to adult education schools with much lower educational standards.

The country's liberals are worried over the rapid change in society and religious norms.

Gulnara Ibrayeva, a university professor, said that she used to support religious freedom, but when she recently visited her home town, she saw that three mosques had been constructed there.  She was upset to see young women at the mosques, dressed in black, telling her "not to turn away from Allah."

"It is now a country where I can't tell anyone how to live their lives, but Muslims feel they can," she said.  She, like other liberals, worries that if Muslims have full religious freedoms, it will be a matter of time before other basic rights are done away with.


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About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • zzzzz

    This was a fascinating post. I was especially interested in the comments at the end of the video. The teacher interviewed was initially a strong supporter of religious freedoms but now feels that full religious "freedom" for some would mean curtailing societal freedom in general.

    • zzzzz

      As an adjunct to my own comments I also thought it worth noting that the teacher noted that the mosques built in her home town were all built with foreign monies.

      • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

        I found it interesting as well, and see parallels with what is going on with Christian dominionism in this country. It is not as blatant — yet — but potentially just as damaging.

        Extremism and fundamentalism in all of their forms are not healthy, no matter if it's religious or atheistic.

        Deborah

  • sheldon

    Although the link below is to a document concerning the Bosnia/Serbia conflict, I think, in light of the obvious Muslim agenda to convert the world to Islam and the lengths to which they have shown us they will go, it speaks to this issue.

    http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/bosnia2.htm

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