A bungled announcement about the end of Ramadan in Kyrgyzstan caused a minor scandal in Bishkek.
The AKIPress news agency reported that Orozo Ait, or Eid al-Fitr as it is known in the Arab world, was declared when Mufti Chubak-aji Jalilov caught sight of the moon at dusk on August 29. This marked the end of the 29th day of the fast, and with the Mufti’s declaration, according to the Labor Law of Kyrgyzstan, automatically made the next day a national holiday.
Unfortunately, such strict observance of Islamic law resulted in an overnight announcement, after many Kyrgyz had already gone to bed. As a result, a significant number of workers arose the next morning and went to work, only to learn via presidential announcement at 11:30 a.m. that they could have stayed in bed.
A commentary posted by the Paruskg.info news website worried that the incident represented the rise of an Islamic state in Kyrgyzstan. By declaring the holiday himself, the website wrote, the Mufti had superseded the state’s authority and undermined parliamentary governance.
More practically, Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun noted that the late announcement had caused distress to believers, 70 percent of whom he estimated missed the public prayers commemorating the end of the fast at 7am on August 30. He called the affair “an infringement of human rights,” citing a host of complaints, and announced plans to form a commission to investigate Kyrgyzstan’s state-run Muslim Spiritual Board, the Muftiyat. He denied rumors, however, that the presidential administration had put pressure on the mufti to make sure the holiday did not coincide with the 20th anniversary of Kyrgyzstan’s independence, which was observed on schedule August 31.