Here's a story you don't hear every day: The grand mufti of Kyrgyzstan — the highest Islamic authority in the country — resigned Tuesday over a sex-tape scandal. The mufti, Rakhmatulla-Hajji Egemberdiev, admitted that the man in a white tank top (sans mufti hat) on the grainy black-and-white video enjoying the company of a young woman is in fact him.
Earlier this week, 60 protesters gathered in front of the Egemberdiev's house demanding his resignation. The mufti complied with the crowd's demands, even though he claimed that the woman on the video was the second wife that he took on four years ago. Polygamy is illegal in Kyrgyzstan and is not widely practiced. The tape, which appeared on Kyrgyz websites on New Year's Eve, was reportedly shot using a hidden camera.
Here's a news report with some snippets from the video:
"Muslim spiritual leaders are in shock," Bakyt Nurdinov, a Muslim activist told Radio Free Europe. "It's the first time such a thing has happened. It's very upsetting that we've lived to see something like this."
Considering previous Kyrgyz muftis' track records, it seems that the latest scandal shouldn't come as such a shocker. Egemberdiev, according to the Moscow Times, is the sixth mufti to be replaced in four years — a previous mufti resigned after accusations of corruption, another died after being beaten and kidnapped.
Egemberdiev himself was allegedly involved in a financial scandal when he was chosen to become the country's Muslim leader. Now he is accusing the authorities of sabotaging him with the tape so that they could introduce a more "loyal" candidate.
But the real tragedy here is that he did, in fact, not keep his mufti hat on. Here at FP, we hope the future muftis of Kyrgyzstan will listen to a little more Joe Cocker.