SAPARMURAT NIYAZOV SAYS TURKMENISTAN HAS NO PLANS TO BUILD AN ISLAMIC STATE
Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has said that the republic's leadership has no plans to build an Islamic state.
"We are not going to build an Islamic state. Islam, however, has always been and will remain our religion," Saparmurat Niyazov told the session of the People's Council (the supreme representative and legislative body in Turkmenistan) on Monday.
"Turkmens hold sacred their religion, Islam, but we have always separated religion from the state, and have now built a secular society, where religion occupies its original place," the head of state said.
Explaining to the republic's clerics their tasks and role in society, Niyazov said: "Your main duty is not to interfere with politics, but to interpret the Koran to believers and provide correct commentaries to it".
The President of Turkmenistan also said that clerics practicing in the country, would study only within the republic's territory, at the Theology department of the Turkmen National University named after Magtymguly.
"None of our clerics will study religion abroad," Saparmurat Niyazov stressed.
According to the Turkmen president, he supports a single religious course and single religious traditions in the republic.
The Turkmenistan's mufti Rowshen Allaberdiyev voiced his support of this statement and informed the session about preparation of a new book, which would indicate that "there is only one way and one religion in Turkmenistan".
RIA "NOVOSTI", 25.10.2004