KYRGYZSTAN: Ahmadi Community Fears For Its Future.

Igor Rotar, Keston News Service, 8 April 2002

"Currently we have no problems in Kyrgyzstan, but we fear that problems may arise after approval of a new law on freedom of conscience and religious organisations, which is due to be adopted at the May parliamentary session," the leader of Kyrgyzstan's Ahmadiyya community told Keston News Service in Bishkek on 1 April. Zahur Ahmad, a Pakistani citizen, cites as evidence the "constant attacks" on the Ahmadiyya community by representatives of the country's official Muslim leadership, the muftiate, and the new position he believes has been taken by the chairman of the parliamentary sub-committee for religious affairs, Alisher Sobirov (who drew up the proposed new religion law). However, while maintaining that Ahmadis are not Muslims, Sobirov denied to Keston that he wishes to see them banned.

The Ahmadiyya community was founded in India by Mirza Gulam Ahmad Kadiani. Ahmadiyya's doctrine is inclusive in nature, seeking to appeal to Christians, Muslims and followers of other religions. According to Ahmadiyya's doctrine, the founder of their community is the repository of the last divine revelation, and is the embodiment of the Muslim Mahdi, the Christian Messiah and the Hindu Krishna. In many Muslim countries Ahmadiyya is not considered to be a Muslim community. In Pakistan, for example, members of the Ahmadiyya community may not call themselves Muslims or use Muslim terminology.

Ahmadi doctrine was brought to Kyrgyzstan at the beginning of the 1990s by preachers from Pakistan. Zahur Ahmad told Keston that at present the faith has around 100 Kyrgyz followers.

"We have already become accustomed to the fact that the muftiate wants to eradicate the activity of Kyrgyzstan's Ahmadiyya community," Zahur Ahmad maintained. However, he claimed that recently Sobirov has essentially supported the muftiate's stance, declaring that the state committee for religious affairs had made an error in registering the Ahmadiyya community as a Muslim organisation. He added that Sobirov had referred to the decision by the Pakistani parliament to ban members of the Ahmadiyya community from calling themselves Muslims. "This is absurd - Pakistani deputies do not have the authority to make such a ruling," Zahur Ahmad insisted. "We have been and continue to be Muslims."

 "I really think it is a mistake to call members of the Ahmadiyya community Muslims, but that certainly does not mean that I want to ban their activity in Kyrgyzstan," Sobirov told Keston on 3 April in Bishkek. "I do not think that problems will emerge for Ahmadiyya after the adoption of the new law on freedom of conscience and religious organisations."

However, Kyrgyzstan's chief mufti, Kimsanbai Haji Abdrahmanov, is much more hardline. "The Ahmadiyya doctrine is a heresy and has nothing in common with Islam. We think it is vital to ban Ahmadiyya's activity in Kyrgyzstan," he told Keston on 3 April in Bishkek. (END)