Bishkek, August 21, Interfax - Eighty percent of imams in Kyrgyzstan do not have the required expertise in modern Islam, Director of the State Agency for Religious Affairs Kanybek Osmonaliyev told journalists on Friday.
"In 2008 we started the imam certification program, which revealed that 80% of imams do not have the knowledge required by the modern Islamic standards," said the head of the agency."
Many spiritual servants are incompetent, which results in their unilateral interpretations of the social role of Islam, most of them are susceptible to the idea of Islamization, whereas our first priority should be to promote the freedom of religion, that is a tolerant approach towards any faith," Osmonaliyev said.
The number of new mosques being built has decreased over the past four years, he also said.
"The boom that Kyrgyzstan saw between the early 1990s and 2005 is now over," he said. "Our policy is to switch from quantity to quality, a policy of building large mosques that will have all the needed infrastructure," the official said."
Currently, many mosques are empty, especially in rural areas, partly because of the lack of qualified imams. As a result, mosques are used as a base for destructive religious Islamic organizations, such as the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir and other Wahabi organizations," Osmonaliyev said.
According to the agency, the country currently has over 2,500 operating mosques.