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Proselytization Eats Away At Muslim Majority In Kyrgyzstan

Akaev’s secular-communist regime is apathetic about proselytization

By Damir Ahmad, IOL Correspondent

MOSCOW , June 26 ( – Five percent of the majority Muslim population in Kyrgyzstan have converted to Christianity due to the spreading missionary work in the former Soviet republic, a Russian newspaper reported Saturday, June 26.

The percentage of Muslims declined from 84 percent of the total population in 2001 to 79.3 percent in 2004, state-run Rossia reported quoting Omurzak Mamayusupov, the director of the religious affairs committee in the country.

In terms of figures, he added, some 100,000 Muslims, of the country’s five million population, have converted to Christianity.

Missionaries are working at full swing in the northern governorates like Narin, Tallas and Issik-Koul, said the official.

In addition to circulating thousands of illustrative brochures, books and videos, they have built churches in the aforesaid northern governorates, added Mamayusupov.

The committee put at 40 the number of Catholic and Protestant proselytizing organizations operating in the north, chief among them are Svideteli Egovi and Adventists of the Seventh Day.

It said they entice the Muslim people away from their religion by money, presents and lucrative work contracts abroad.

Religious Police

Mamayusupov warned that such organizations endanger the national security and run the risk of triggering an ethnic conflict.

"We must nib this phenomenon in the bud to head off an ethnic conflict in Kyrgyzstan ," he said.

The official recalled that for years Orthodox Christians and Muslims have been living in peace and coexistence, cautioning that the missionaries, seeking to spread Catholicism and Protestantism, might ignite a religious war.

He added that the government is considering the option of forming a religious police department in the near future to counter the missionary work in the country.

Muslim locals were originally following Abu Hanifah Madhhab ( Juristic School ) but some 40 percent model themselves after the Wahabi school of Saudi Arabia .

Islam entered Kyrgyzstan in 879 CE. There are around 3,000 mosques in the country of which 2000 have been constructed since 2000 in the south.

Although the country has a Muslim majority, the secular-communist regime of President Askar Akaev, who came to power after the fall of Soviet Union in 1991, has largely been showing apathy vis-à-vis missionary activities.

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