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Kyrgyz Madrasah Principals To Lose Licenses

Up to 92 percent of the country's madrasah headmasters could lose their teaching licenses as a result of greater enforcement of regulations passed in 2014.

BISHKEK -- Nearly all principals of Islamic schools in Kyrgyzstan will not be certified in 2016 because they lack a diploma for higher education on religion.

Abdulla Asrankulov, the chairman of Kyrgyzstan's Religious Certification Commission, told RFE/RL on February 23 that as many as 92 percent of the country's madrasah headmasters would lose their teaching licenses as a result of greater enforcement of regulations passed in 2014.

Asrankulov also said the State Commission on Religious Issues will recommend that Kyrgyzstan's grand mufti fire madrasah principals who do not have diplomas for university-level religious studies or from officially recognized religious universities.

Of 101 madrasahs in Kyrgyzstan, 72 have registered their teachers for the certification process that begins on February 24.

The measures passed in 2014 require all Islamic-school teachers to regularly undergo certification in order to regulate Islamic schools and prevent extremists from teaching at madrasahs.

It was not immediately clear how many teachers were likely to fail the certification process.

In 2012, Kyrgyz security officials accused the country's highest religious authority -- the Muftiyat -- of illegally sending Kyrgyz children to religious schools in Bangladesh, where teachers allegedly propagated extremist views of the Tablighi Jamaat movement.

Kyrgyz authorities' efforts to increase control over religious schools coincided with the rise of Islamic radicalism across the country.

In recent months, Kyrgyz authorities carried out counterterrorist operations in which alleged Islamic extremists were killed or detained.

Several convicted Islamists who had escaped from prison, as well as at least four police officers and prison guards, were killed in counterterrorist operations from July to October in Bishkek.

Kyrgyz officials have also expressed concern over the hundreds of young Kyrgyz nationals who are believed to have joined Islamist State militants in the Middle East.

In mid-January, Kyrgyz Interior Ministry said that more than 30 Kyrgyz nationals were killed while fighting alongside Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq in 2015.