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Chief Kyrgyz Mufti Faces Accusations

Mufti Chubak ajy Jalilov

Mufti Chubak ajy Jalilov

Kyrgyzstan's chief mufti, Chubak ajy Jalilov, has been accused of overcharging would-be pilgrims to Mecca. At the same time, Jalilov said he plans to initiate a court case against Kyrgyzstan's ombudsman and a well-known politician.

Jusup ajy Sultanov, the co-chairman of the For Clean Religion in Society social organization, said Jalilov's office is charging pilgrims $2,600 to make the hajj this year, which Sultanov says is $700 too high.

Sultanov said he has helped organize pilgrimages in the past and "I know the prices." Sultanov called for the chief mufti to resign.

Jalilov said he is trying to organize flights to Saudi Arabia through two companies -- Kyrgyz Trans Air and Manas Air -- but each air carrier has its own price, which Jalilov said was around $1,500 just for the plane tickets.

Also today, Jalilov announced that he intends to sue ombudsman Tursunbek Akun and politician Edil Baisalov.

Jalilov said Baisalov "says that I am dragging the country back into the Middle Ages, accuses me of all sorts of sins."

Jalilov said Akun wants "to establish a commission to investigate my activities and he has no right."

According to the mufti, "I am the supreme mufti and according to the constitution there is separation of religion and state."

compiled from agency reports