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School Accused of Converting Pupils

The Kyrgyz prosecution service is looking into a school that has been accused of converting children to the Muslim faith against the will of their relatives.
As reporter Ayday Tokonova found out, the pupils involved come from a private children’s home in the Tup district. Its head Gulnara Degenbaeva insists she sends children to the school only because they will get a better education than at the local school.

The prosecution service was made aware of the allegations by the Kyrgyzstan government department for children’s rights and the League of Children’s Rights Defenders.

The children involved are Russian and therefore of Orthodox Christian background, and say they are taught the rules of Islam and how to recite verses from the Koran.

The grandmother of one child is distraught, asking what right the school has to convert pupils without consulting relatives.

The school itself insist children are not being taught religion, only the Arabic language as a subject.

Deputy head Gulnara Soorova says that if female pupils have started wearing Muslim headscarves, it can only be in imitation of others at the school.

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