A local imam in a village in the north-eastern Issyk-Kul Region, accompanied by a “mob” of Muslim men threatening violence, prevented the burial of a Christian villager in the public cemetery.
After Ulam Kaliyev’s death, to avoid trouble, his family sought the consent of Barskoon village’s imam to bury Kaliyev in the local cemetery. Muslims often do not allow Christians to be buried in local cemeteries unless they consent to a Muslim burial service, but Kaliyev’s family was determined to bury him as a Christian.
The next day, on 24 November 2017, Imam Sultan Murzaliyev with 15 local Muslim men and officials, forced his way into their family home, announcing: “We will not allow Kaliyev to be buried in the village cemetery.”
The Imam said a ‘fatwa’ prevented non-Muslims from being buried in cemeteries with Muslims.
Kaliyev was later buried in a Christian cemetery in a town 35 miles away.
Local imams and the state-controlled Muslim Boards often cite a sentence in the 2009 Religion Law to justify blocking non-Muslim funerals in public cemeteries, which states “Recognition of regulations of use of confessional cemeteries and regulations of cemetery exactions shall be governed by regulations of local municipalities.”
Forum 18 reports that only four out of a 70-strong mob were given suspended sentences for twice-exhuming a deceased Christian’s body in February 2017, when it should have warranted a jail sentence of between three and five years. None of the officials that incited the crowd were prosecuted.