BISHKEK. Residents of the capital city and guests gathered today at the old main square of Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan's Mufti, Murataaly Juman-uulu led the Muslim festival. Before reading namaz (festival prayers), some official guests, including the Ambassadors of the USA, Turkey, and Iran, congratulated the gathering on Id al-Adkha (Kurman Ait, or Festival of Sacrifice). The Mufti urged Muslims and other Kyrgyz citizens to maintain peace, friendship, harmony and morality in Kyrgyz society. About 30,000 people attended the prayers in the capital. There were prayers in all the regional centers and big towns.
The majority of the population of Kyrgyzstan consists of Sunni Muslims. The second largest denomination are Orthodox Christians. About 3,000 Kyrgyz Muslims are participating in the Hajj (pilgrimage to Holy Mecca). Kurman Ait is one of the officially recognized religious holidays in Kyrgyzstan nowadays. During the Soviet period, especially in the years of the atheist campaigns against religion, the festivity was celebrated unofficially or secretly.