MSN newspaper ran an article featuring comments of Cholpon Baekova, former MP and number one on Ak Jol party list, and Bakyt Beshimov, former Vice President for Academic Affairs at American University -Central Asia and member of SDPK party. Both MPs find it normal that many ethnic Kyrgyz turn to Islam. Baekova emphasized that Kyrgyzstan is a secular state, Beshimov is worried about Kyrgyzstan becoming a battleground for Islamic extremist forces. Both agreed that the issue is about two holy places, as both Islam and World War Two are important for
Strangely enough I am writing about Islam more and more and thinking about its influence a lot more than before. I pass almost everyday near one of Bishkek squares – the Victory Square and enjoy the vast space around it. Just recently there was an idea put forward by local Muslim groups to remove the monument at the Victory Square and build a Mosque there because they found historical evidence of this space belonging to a Mosque. This is done in response to Ministry of Interior request to ban public prayers in the central squares on Muslim holidays which were quite common for Kyrgyzstan.
I immediately imagined World War II medalled veterans on one side with red flags and bearded religious men on the other side all arguing and claiming historical ownership of the space. I would go for WWII veterans’ point for two reasons: 1. there is hardly any other space to recognize their effort to ‘bring peace to future generations’ and 2. it’s scary to think of a huge mosque built so close to a sex worker space, gay club, circus, casino and marriage registry palace.
Plus it is scary to have one more mosque. Had a huge discussion about women’s situation and development yesterday at LGBT community center.
Very short concept:
a non-consensual religious marriage at 17 for a woman =
= 3-4 children an+ divorce within 10 years =
= poverty * poor health* malnutrition =
= Kyrgyzstan becoming poorer
Therefore, ‘NO, I do not support restrictive religious presence in families, on the streets and in institutions’
Just to discuss the hypocrisy of interpretation of the concept of human rights in Kyrgyzstan. I was just watching Tursunbai Bakir uulu (who was Kyrgyz ombudsman for five years) on an ‘analytical’ program. He was talking about how flawed the elections wear and saying that the people in power in Kyrgyzstan do not fear God and do not prepare for their second life after death. At one point of the interview he took out a tiny Koran out of his pocket and said that he always carries one with him. During his speech he has not mentioned human rights a single time, yet religon was indeed the main topic of conversation. According to Bakir uulu, Kyrgyz people need to have an ideology which will be rooted in religion to replace the old communism ideology and not to have ‘vacuum’ in their heads. At some point he also said that he prays five times a day but does not even make his staff to do so in response to concern about his religiosity being an issue.
I can’t wait for the new ombudsman elections and actually need to ask around about the possibility of taking part in the elections process.