KYRGYZSTAN: Petition for Ousted Imam.

Igor Rotar, Keston News Service, 24 September 2001

More than 200 inhabitants of Bozor-kurgan district of Jalal-abad region of southern Kyrgyzstan have signed a petition in support of their imam who, it is widely believed, was ousted last April at the instigation of the regional governor, a representative of the human rights organisation Justice in Jalal-abad region, Azimjan Askarov, told Keston News Service on 18 September. The mufti of Jalal-abad region, Dilmurat Haji Orozov, told Keston last month that the imam-hatyb of the central mosque of Bozor-kurgan district, Tajiddin Abdumadshidov, was forced to resign under pressure from the regional governor (see KNS 16 August 2001). The situation in Bozor-kurgan district remains tense.

'Every day believers come to me asking that their imam should be Abdumadshidov,' Mufti Orozov told Keston on 19 September in Osh. 'I asked the chief mufti of Kyrgyzstan and he agreed that I should reinstate him. But Abdumadshidov is an enemy of the governor of our region, Sultan Urmanayev, and if I reinstate him, then I myself will have to resign. According to the laws of Kyrgyzstan, religion is separate from the state, but in reality the authorities compel Muslims to do their will and we are powerless to fight that.'

All those to whom Keston spoke in Bozor-kurgan district in August confirmed that Abdumadshidov had been removed under pressure from the authorities. However, the deputy governor of Jalal-abad region with responsibility for social and religious matters, Arym Akparaliev, categorically denied that his removal had been at the instigation of the authorities. 'This is an internal matter for the Muslims and we did not interfere in it,' Akparaliev told Keston last month.

'Unfortunately, I have heard nothing about a dispute in Bozor-kurgan district,' the newly-appointed head of the government's state commission for religious affairs, Omyrzak Mamayusupov, told Keston on 19 September in Osh. 'However, if the authorities are truly interfering in believers' affairs, then that is an appalling infringement of the laws, and the perpetrators should be punished.' (END)