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Kyrgyzstan: Muslim Clerics Help Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Kyrgyzstan, the State Commission on Religious Affairs, and local Muslim clergy have launched a unique campaign that aims to inform religious leaders about HIV/AIDS.

Kyrgyzstan's first deputy mufti Lugmar aji Guahunov told RFE/RL that Muslim clerics have a role to play in tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"I want to say that Islam is a religion of kindness [and] neatness," Guahunov said. "It fights for a healthy way of life. In my opinion, it is normal that imams talk about AIDS because we do it within the framework of Shari'a law. Also I would say that it is not the problem of one person [or] doctors. It is the problem of [the whole] society -- everyone."

The campaign uses workshops to educate religious authorities about HIV/AIDS and how it spreads. The clerics then incorporate what they have learned into their teachings.

Twenty-two-year old Temirbek uulu Baktybek studies at the Kyrgyz National University in the capital Bishkek. He told RFE/RL that young people listen carefully to imams talking about AIDS.

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Kyrgyzstan: Muslim Clerics Help Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness

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