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Religion Plays Growing Role in Kyrgyzstan’s Parliamentary Election Campaign

In many areas of Kyrgyzstan, especially in the South, religion is playing a prominent role in the parliamentary election campaign. The involvement of Islamic and Christian spiritual leaders in politics is an unsettling development for authorities.

During the run-up to the February 27 election, state agencies responsible for religious affairs have tried to draw a clear line between religion and politics. For example, the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims in Kyrgyzstan recently issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling on Islamic clergy and scholars to "avoid involvement in politics ... and prevent the politicization of Islam." The ban, however, is not being observed by a significant number of clerics, who are otherwise loyal to state-sanctioned religious institutions.

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Alisher Khamidov is a PhD candidate at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. Freelance writer Bakyt Ibraimov contributed reporting for this article.

Religion Plays Growing Role in Kyrgyzstan’s Parliamentary Election Campaign

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