BISHKEK — Kyrgyzstan’s top Muslim cleric, Grand Mufti Maksatbek Hajji Toktomushev, has been detained by police amid a corruption scandal.
Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security (UKMK) said late on February 10 that Toktomushev is suspected of being involved in the alleged misuse of funds raised by worshippers for a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca later this year.
Dozens of Toktomushev’s supporters rallied in front of the UKMK headquarters in Bishkek on February 11 to demand his release.
Earlier on February 10, Toktomushev, who in his capacity was also head of Kyrgyzstan’s Religious Directorate — the state agency in charge of Islamic affairs — had handed in his resignation.
The directorate’s press office told RFE/RL that Toktomushev’s place will be taken by his deputy until a replacement is elected.
The UKMK announced on February 10 that the directorate’s chief accountant, whose identity was not disclosed, had been arrested on suspicion of misusing the equivalent of almost $2 million raised by worshippers.
According to the UKMK, the accountant’s arrest occurred on February 9 during an alleged attempt to bribe a UKMK officer.
The directorate’s press office told RFE/RL that it won’t publicly comment on the case until after the trial.
The majority of the Central Asian nation’s 6 million population are Sunni Muslims.
February 11, 2021, published on RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service