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Imams should be appointed by Government: Kazakhstan MP

07 февраля 2014, 13:48

Imams should be appointed by competent authorities, Majilis deputy Kamal Burkhanov believes. At a recent extended sitting of the Agency for Religion he suggested introducing concordat so that clergymen could be appointed by competent public bodies.

In the Catholic Church, a concordat is an agreement between the Holy See of the Catholic Church and a sovereign state that deals with the recognition and privileges of the Catholic Church in a particular country and with secular matters that impact church interests, such as taxation as well as the right of a state to influence the selection of bishops within its territory.

“Concordat is a norm in all civilized nations … respective public bodies appoint high-rakning clergymen, define a certain strategy when it comes to religion issues (…) Kazakhstan should consider introducing a similar system”, Mr. Burkhanov said, adding that this practice has no adverse effect on democratic values in Europe.

Kamal Burkhanov. Photo courtesy of inform.kz

Kamal Burkhanov. Photo courtesy of inform.kz

“France is not booted out of the UN or the OSCE (…) Italy is not dubbed as a non-democracy [over concordat] (…) Why don’t we borrow reasonable practices that have been there for quite a while in these democracies?”, he elaborated.

A Tengrinews.kz journalist forwarded the question to Galym Shoikin, Vice Head of the State Agency for Religion. He answered the Agency was working to enhance ties between the state and confessions.

“I suppose such suggestions cannot be automatically turned down. We need to come up with a solution to suit Kazakhstan. There is no absolute recipe (…) each nation has its own mentality, culture, established ties between the state and religion institutions. We will consider the suggestion”, Mr. Shoikin said.

Galym Shoikin. Photo courtesy of inform.kz

Galym Shoikin. Photo courtesy of inform.kz

Mr. Burkhanov elaborated in an interview for Tengrinews.kz that his suggestion is applicable not only to imams. Concordat is a complex system of interaction between the state and confessions.

“Concordat is a contract between a certain confession and the state (…) it envisages certain financial injections out of the national budget; in its turn, the state controls both donations and money allocated out of the national budget to support religion institutions”, Mr. Burkhanov said.

He elaborated that around 2000 mosques are located in remote villages and they struggle to sustain themselves; imams serving in such mosques have no regular salary or other sources of income, according to him.

“In France, the Head of the Catholic Church is approved of by the President; the ones of protestant churches are approved of by the Prime Minister; the head of the Muslim community is approved of by the Parliament Speaker. It should be a mutually beneficial solution, for the good of the society, the state authorities and those confessing a certain religion”, he believes.

Currently imams are appointed by the Chairman of the Muslim Spiritual Authority, whereas the Supreme Mufti is elected at the Kurultai (Congress) of Kazakhstan’s Muslims.  

Photo courtsy of islamsng.com

Photo courtsy of islamsng.com

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