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Muslim Clergy In Kyrgyzstan To Be Vetted

BISHKEK -- All Muslim clergymen in Kyrgyzstan are to be vetted this year by a special commission to determine whether their knowledge of the Islamic faith is commensurate with the positions they occupy, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

This reassessment of Islamic clerics' competence -- which was mandated by the government -- is part of a broader reform that also entails changes in the structure of Kyrgyzstan's Central Muftiate.

Rakhmatulla Egemberdiev, a representative of the Central Muftiate, told RFE/RL that the aim of the new regulations is to strengthen the control of Kyrgyzstan's Spiritual Board of Muslims over local imams, many of whom reportedly routinely ignore its directives.

The survey of clergy will serve the additional purpose of updating documentary records and inventories, Egemberdiev said.

Experts point out that the number of mosques in Kyrgyzstan already exceeds the number of schools. Most of the new mosques have been built in the past 20 years.

The country also has more than 60 madrasahs, or Islamic schools, with 35 of them located in the capital, Bishkek.