Subscribe to Secularism is a Womens Issue

Secularism is a Women’s Issue

Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Asia / Africa / Americas - Carribean / The Pacific / International > Kyrgystan: Secularism Lost in Translation

Kyrgystan: Secularism Lost in Translation

News Briefing Central Asia, 16-Mar-07

Thursday 3 May 2007

Even though Kyrgyzstan’s new constitution clearly sets out the
separation between state and religion, some NBCentralAsia
commentators argue that dropping the word “secular” from the wording
of the document could prove a damaging mistake.

When constitutional amendments were adopted by parliament on
December 30 last year, the word “secular” was omitted from the
definition of the state of Kyrgyzstan.

The architects of the changes said the term was left out simply
because the Kyrgyz language has no equivalent to the Russian word
“svetski”, and and the previous translation of it literally meant "a
state without faith".

However, Gulnara Ibraeva, director of the Agency for Social
Technologies, said that despite the translation problems, the
definition of Kyrgyzstan as a secular state should be restored to
the constitution.

"We never imagined how fast events would develop after the concept
of secularism was taken out of the constitution,“she said.”Via the
attempt to ban abortions… and to decriminalise polygamy, certain
forces are trying to manipulate developments by saying the word
’secular’ can’t be translated into Kyrgyz."

Ibraeva says that she and other activists are going to collect the
300,000 signatures required to amend the constitution, so that the
word can be restored to its rightful place.

Member of parliament Kanybek Imanaliev also expressed regret at the
loss of this key definition in the text of the constitution, and he
predicts religion will gain more influence over politics as a result.

Kadyr Malikov, an expert on religion, disagreed with such dire
predictions. As thing stand, he pointed out, the constitution
explicitly forbids the creation of religious parties, and bans them
from taking part in politics.

Myktybek Arstanbek, a well-known journalist, made a similar point,
noting that the constitution clearly desrcribes a state that is
separated from religion and based on democratic rather than
theological principles.

(The above article appreaed in News Briefing Central Asia, 16-Mar-07)

© Institute for War & Peace Reporting