Kyrgyz faith communities unite against extremism
BISHKEK -- Leaders of diverse Kyrgyzstan's religious communities are rallying to fight terrorism.
The effort comes after President Almazbek Atambayev's office and the cabinet, in June, decided to step up the fight against extremism by enlisting the country's faith communities.
About 600 radicalised Kyrgyz have joined the militancy in Syria and Iraq since 2011, according to the government.
One answer was the formation in June of the first inter-faith council in modern Kyrgyz history.
The council, which includes leaders of the Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Buddhist communities, is part of the State Commission for Religious Affairs (GKDR).
Providing government support is expected to ensure the council's survival. Previous, private efforts to form such a group failed.
On June 16 in Bishkek, leaders of those faith communities signed the agreement governing the inter-faith body's creation. Officials from various ministries and agencies participated in the event.
"The council is an advisory body," Orozbek Moldaliyev, the chief of the GKDR, said. "Its goals [include] ... co-ordinating efforts to fight extremism."
The council will enable co-operation between the state and religious organisations in building tolerance too, its members hope.
Another task is keeping an eye out for destructive religious movements.
Events to strengthen council
They include a July 13-17 international conference in Bishkek on "Better understanding for the sake of a better world".
At that forum, which included delegates from dozens of countries, members of various religions "discussed how to resolve various conflicts of religious nature, as well as reasons for the appearance of radicalism and extremism", Zayirbek Chotayev, deputy director of the GKDR, said.
"We Muslim clerics are open to dialogue," Deputy Mufti Ravshan haji Eratov said. "We are willing to make the maximum effort to preserve stability and inter-faith harmony."
Another event, Issyk-Kul Dialogue II, took place July 7-8 on the shores of the eponymous mountain lake.
"We call for a united front against ideas from radicalism and extremism, which are alien to the Kyrgyz people," the statement from that conference said.