Monday, June 11, 2012 -
Kyrgyz authorities formally opened on Sunday the largest mosque in country to mark the second anniversary of ethnic violence that left more than 430 people dead in its wake.
Islam is “a religion of unity,” Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev told a crowd at the opening ceremony of the massive mosque located in the southern city of Osh.
Kyrgyz citizens should remember they are part of “a single nation,” he added, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.
The site occupies an area of around 2.5 acres and is able to hold 20,000 people.
The $1.2 million mosque was constructed from money raised by local citizens with donations from the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Construction, which began in 2008, was suspended for a year owing to violence during the summer of 2010 that resulted in the temporary displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
Ethnic healing is slowly becoming more evident in the volatile republic, which was ethnically torn in two by the events of June 2010 when southern Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks indulged in several days of violence.
Observers say that two years of rebuilding efforts in the southern cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad have helped toward healing some of the pain.
The state Directorate of Reconstruction and Development in the cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad said Monday its workers have completed 80 percent of planned rebuilding and restoration of properties destroyed in the violence, the KyrTAG news agency reported.
“Life is slowly getting better. People have become less aggressive, but aggression is still sometimes seen,” one Osh taxi driver told the KyrTAG news agency.
A local journalist told the news agency, “People are afraid, but that does not mean the situation is not stable. Kyrgyz and Uzbeks work in the markets together.”