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Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Internal Affairs wants to bar Muslims from performing holiday prayers on Bishkek's central square - Central Asia News Afghanistan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Tajikistan Turkmenistan-Sports Business and Entertainment
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, Oct. 3—Officials in Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Internal Affairs are once again proposing a ban on holiday prayers in the capital's main square. Generals in this security agency have outlined the move in a legal document entitled “Early Warning to Prevent Violence.”
"Twice every year, during the Islamic holy days of Orozo Ayt and Kurman Ayt, the Central Mosque organises holiday prayers open to all on Old Square in Bishkek. The country's leadership takes part in the ceremony along with diplomatic corps of foreign nations. Five years ago only 5,000-10,000 people participated, but now this figure has reached 40,000-50,000 or more," General Temirkan Subanov, the deputy director of the Ministry of Internal Affairs explains.
In his opinion, Old Square cannot accommodate such large numbers of people. As a result, traffic police cordons must be set up around its perimeter and the Ala-Too Central Square in order to detour automobile traffic, which blocks the city's main thoroughfares.
To bolster his argument against the public prayers, Subanov pointed out the practice in other countries of holding the ceremonies in mosques or on the grounds of mosques. The Ministry of Internal Affairs suggests mosques serve as venues for holiday prayers as well.
Kyrgyzstan's religious leadership is wary of the proposal, fearing that such a rash move on a delicate issue such as religious freedom might provoke protests among the country's Muslims. To counter this, religious leaders are offering to conduct the ceremonies on Victory Square, where a Second World War memorial stands, at the site of a yearly parade on Victory Day. These proposals from the religious community are viewed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs as inadequate for dealing with the problem, leaving the issue unresolved and open for further consideration.