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Kyrgyz Ombudsman Opposes Prayer Room In Parliament

Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun says he opposes the idea of opening a special room in the parliament for namaz, or Islamic prayers, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Akun told RFE/RL that parliament deputies who raised the issue this week are trying to use populist ideas to score points among adherent Muslims in Kyrgyzstan.

"I am a Muslim myself; I pray regularly and even made the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj," Akun said. "But I also know that Kyrgyzstan is a secular state and therefore there should be no prayer room in the parliament."

Earlier in the week, parliament deputy Tursunbai Bakir proposed the idea of opening a prayer room in the parliament. He told RFE/RL that such a prayer room would not violate any laws.

Bakir added that it "would be great to have each Friday as a national day off from work so that all Muslims could go to mosques for the traditional Islamic Friday Prayers."

Read in Kyrgyz here