Local Communities in the South of Kyrgyzstan Discuss Importance of Religious Tolerance for Peace
Religion has been increasingly penetrating our everyday life. Over the past twenty years we have turned from the country of total atheism to an islet where the various faiths, traditional as well as imported from abroad, peacefully coexist. Situation with religion in Kyrgyzstan remains ambiguous. Therefore consolidation of government authorities, religious and non-governmental organizations to deal with this issue is critical, as it should be a key factor for stabilization, strengthening of interethnic and interconfessional peace and conflict prevention in the country.
That was the main goal of the round table discussions recently organized by the Peace and Development Programme in Aravan and Nookat districts of Osh province – one of the most diverse regions of the country. Discussions were aimed at strengthening capacity of and empowering local communities for settlement of religious issues and negating conflicts. The event brought together representatives of local governments and non-governmental, religious, international watchdog organizations in order to discuss and settle issues related to peaceful coexistence in a multiconfessional society.
- We need open public discussions of all issues in order to prevent politicization and radicalization and direct this spiritual potential for the benefit of communities.
- The most typical religious issues are promotion of intolerant views, intervention of criminal elements in spiritual realm, uncontrolled construction of religious facilities, illegal activities of certain foreign missions, etc
Variety of religious groups in Kyrgyzstan certainly enriches culture. But on the other hand there is a clear trend of politicization and radicalization of religions in the country. Thus we need open public discussions of all issues in order to prevent these trends and direct this spiritual potential for the benefit of communities. There is a need to combine the efforts of various religious confessions, government authorities and public forces to form a clear ideology of joint amicable coexistence in the country.
According to the Kyrgyz State Committee for Religious Affairs the most typical religious issues are promotion of intolerant views, intervention of criminal elements in spiritual realm, uncontrolled construction of religious facilities, illegal activities of certain foreign missions, etc. Each of the issues requires a comprehensive, deliberate approach and no slapdash actions are acceptable.
Achieving this goal and settling many issues require wide range of educational work with communities for which various formats of meetings providing productive dialogue between interested groups have been chosen. These include but not limited to working meetings, round tables and seminars during which participants discuss various religious issues in Kyrgyzstan, related state policies, national law enforcement practices, Islamic principles of peace, tolerance and interaction. In addition, participants of the events had opportunities to discuss joint plans with local keneshs (councils), authorities, religious organizations and civil society settlement of religious issues.
One of the important achievements of the educational work is the resolution on prevention of religious intolerance in Aravan and Nookat districts of Osh province adopted in one of the round tables. The resolution includes mechanisms developed on a round table and forms of co-operation for the settlement of religious and ethnic issues at local level.
Participants noted that the trainings will help them deal with issues related to religions within legal framework and according to requirements international obligations on freedom of conscience and religious discrimination and reduce the possibility of discrimination of small religious groups.