Tuesday, February 21, 2006

From Forum 18 - Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan



Kosovo's latest draft religion law, drawn up in secrecy under Austrian auspices, privileges the Muslim community, Catholics and the Serbian Orthodox Church, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. The draft law has the support of these communities, but others disagree with its provisions. Amongst disputed issues are proposals to give some communities 'special status' but effectively bar others from receiving this for at least 10 years. Pastor Artur Krasniqi stressed in general to Forum 18 that Protestants 'do not agree in any way with any discrimination whatsoever towards any religious group'. He was also concerned by the majority Muslim community's attitude to minorities, and Chief Imam Sabri Bajgora's recent statement that 'Muslims will not be responsible for any consequences whatsoever to Protestants if they do not stop their activity in this country.' The OSCE Mission noted that it looks at all draft laws 'especially when they concern the rights of smaller religious and ethnic communities.'



The recent murder of an ethnic Kyrgyz convert to Christianity, Saktinbai Usmanov, was the culmination of a long series of intolerant incidents, Forum 18 News Service has found. Usmanov was the only Christian in his village. The intolerance was encouraged by the village Mullah, Nurlan Asangojaev, although most of the attackers were themselves drunk, which is forbidden in Islam. Asangojaev arranged for Usmanov to be banned from community events after his conversion, which is very painful for the traditionally community-centred Kyrgyz. He has also barred Usmanov from being buried in the village cemetery. Mullah Asangojaev has since Usmanov's murder told Forum 18 and others that "I can't offer any convincing proof, but I am sure that Saktinbai was killed by Protestants because he wanted to return to Islam." This is strongly denied by Saktinbai Usmanov's son, Protestant Pastor Ruslan Usmanov, who told Forum 18 that this is a "monstrous slander." There are numerous incidents of intolerance, including official hostility, towards Christian converts from Muslim backgrounds throughout Central Asia, Forum 18 has found.

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