2017-05-29 10:19:00

Patriarch Kirill thanks Kyrgyz mufti for kind attitude towards Orthodox believers

Bishkek, May 29, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with Kyrgyz Mufti Maksatbek Hajji Toktomushev on a visit to Bishkek and thanked him for the kind attitude towards the country's Orthodox community.

"I would like to thank you. The people's mood and attitude towards the Orthodox religion in many ways depend on you as Mufti and on your clergymen. And your well-wishing attitude and your conveying it to the others, too, is a very important factor of peace between our people," Patriarch Kirill told the Mufti at his state residence on Sunday.

It is hoped that this cooperation will develop, especially given "the tragic events relating to the radical use of religion," Patriarch Kirill said.

He stressed that he deliberately chose not to use the term "religious extremism" because "religious extremism cannot be."

"The killing of innocent people, children, women, pilgrims, as now happened in Egypt, Orthodox pilgrims were on the way to a service - doing such things in the name of God is impossible," the Russian church leader said, noting that Kyrgyzstan is doing a great deal so that "no one could use religion for evil purposes."

Both the Orthodox believers and Muslims in the republic have always lived in peace, both before the revolution and during the years of atheist persecutions of the pious by iconoclasts, the patriarch said.

"But we have always had the feeling of solidarity, the feeling of support," Patriarch Kirill said.

For his part, the mufti thanked his high guest for the visit and invited him to Kyrgyzstan more often. "We hope [this is] not the first time and not the last, we hope to see you here every year," Toktomushev said.

The Kyrgyz religious population is overwhelmingly Muslim. There are over 2,000 active mosques across the country.

The official centralized Islamic organization is the Spiritual Authority of Kyrgyz Muslim, with 2,500 imams working nationwide.

Toktomushev was elected as the leader of the Spiritual Authority of Kyrgyz Muslims in 2014. A trained zoo engineer, he also holds degrees from Islamic institutes in Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan. As the national spiritual leader Toktomushev oversaw major reforms including national re-certification of all clergymen, streamlining the mosques' paperwork and setting new qualification requirements for clerics. Toktomushev also insisted on conducting quarterly seminars for muftis.