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IWPR conducted dialogue meetings with the population of Batken Oblast on issues of freedom of religion, interfaith dialogue and building a peaceful community

IWPR conducted dialogue meetings with population of Batken Oblast on religious freedom, interfaith dialogue and building a peaceful community

In Batken  city and in the district centers of Kadamzhai, Kyzyl-Kiya, experts together with local authorities, religious figures and the population discussed  issues in the field of religion and clarified sensitive issues.Taking into account the tension in cross-border issues, IWPR together with the State Commission for Religious Affairs (SCRA) and the State Agency for Local Government and Interethnic Relations under the Government (SALGIR) met with the population to discuss problems and issues in the field of religion. These meetings are preventive in nature and are primarily aimed at preventing radicalization, improving understanding among stakeholders and effective interaction between the population, religious leaders and representatives of local authorities.

The meetings are divided into two parts: explanation of the ethnic and religious policies of the state, discussion with the population on these issues. Speakers of the events were Aibek Iminov, specialist of the SCRA analytics department, GAMSUMO interethnic relations department head Nazar Irsaliev and head of the progressive public association of women “Mutakalim” Zhamal Frontbek kyzy.

The meeting was attended by 225 people: social workers, representatives of local authorities, local community leaders, students and representatives of religious organizations.

In order to identify the mood of the residents, as well to support dialogue for a more effective understanding of the principles of secularism, the importance of interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance, detailed presentations on religious policy were included in the meeting program. And at the Q&A session, local residents had the opportunity to openly voice their concerns.

Nazar Irsaliev opened meetings with the presentation of the work of GAMSUMO, explained in detail on the values of diversity and mechanisms for promoting ethnic tolerance

The event continued with a presentation by Aybek Iminov (SCRA), who spoke about the legislation of Kyrgyzstan regulating religious activities. An important component of the presentation was the values ​​of religious freedom. Participants were informed about the ban on house-breaking and that religious education is only possible in religious institutions. He also emphasized that every citizen has the right to choose his religion and the importance of promoting the values ​​of religious tolerance.

The event continued with a presentation by Aybek Iminov (SCRA), who spoke about the legislation of Kyrgyzstan regulating religious activities. An important component of the presentation was the values of religious freedom. Participants were informed about the ban on house-breaking and that religious education is only possible in religious institutions. He also emphasized that every citizen has the right to choose his religion and the importance of promoting the values of religious tolerance.

Based on the results of these presentations, residents had a lot of questions for the speakers. The most urgent of them was the problem of refusing to vaccinate the residents of the city of Kyzyl Kiya. According to the representative of the sanitary-epidemiological station, in 2019, 228 people refused vaccination, 226 of them for religious reasons. Another exciting point is the wearing of religious clothing in educational institutions.

“Within the framework of the year of regional development, it is important to have face-to-face meetings with the population. Religious leaders, local authorities, and local people need an understanding of the state’s religious policy. Such meetings are very helpful in explaining the principles of secularism. As we see people have a lot of questions about religious clothing, the Tablighi-Jamaat movement, and vaccination. Also among the participants are many conflicting statements and an understanding of religious freedom and the principles of secularism. We hope that these events will be more than one-time in nature and will be able to cover the remaining regions of the country, ”said Aibek Iminov, specialist of the analytical department of the SCRA

Zhamal Frontbek Kyzy, moderator of the meetings, spoke about the principles of secularism, the need for vaccinating children and providing education for girls. She also spoke about her experience of civic activism and called for active participation in the dissemination of knowledge among her population.

“I want to thank the initiators and organizers of these interactive lectures on religious issues. For long time we had need a qualified explanation of the banned organizations, as the population does not know that they can be held criminally liable. Today, the participants received answers to many questions, but despite this, we would like to suggest involving more religious leaders in explaining the principles of secularism among the population, ” Absalam Abdraimov, SALGIR Executive Secretary for Batken Region

Another issue raised by the audience is the lack of effective interaction between local authorities and religious leaders. It is necessary to work together for a more effective approach on the issues of marriage, vaccination and religious practice among schoolchildren,  The issue of the return of Kyrgyz citizens from Syria and Iraq was also discussed. For the population, this is still a new process by which it is still difficult to determine their position. The speakers emphasized that the state has adopted a humane approach and it is necessary to return children and women.

During dialogue meetings, IWPR faced  different opinions and different level of knowledge among the population. Of course, it is possible to accurately determine the level of knowledge of the population only after a survey or in-depth interviews, but this approach of meetings gives answers to the question about which topics are most interesting for residents. It is important to note that it is necessary to conduct meetings between stakeholders with more frequency  to strengthen actions to solve community problems.