The President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, has told his people that reading his book on morality would make them smarter and could help them go to heaven.
Turkmenistan’s President for life, often known by his official title – Turkmenbashi the Great – was addressing a gala concert to celebrate the traditional central Asian new year, Nu Ruz, on the first day of spring.
He told his audience that when he was writing the two volumes of the Rukhnama – his book of Turkmen history and homespun philosophy – that he prayed to God to bless those who read the book three times aloud.
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He said he had asked God to send such people straight to heaven.
“Anyone who reads the Rukhnama three times will find spiritual wealth, will become more intelligent, will recognise the divine being and will go straight to heaven,” Mr Niyazov said.
The Turkmen leader said he had “called on Allah” while working on the two-volume book to ensure that enthusiastic readers would be given quicker access to heaven.
Mr Niyazov has set up a bizarre personality cult, including erecting gold statues of himself and his deceased parents in strategic spots across his largely desert country.
The Rukhnama, a collection of philosophical and religious writings, is compulsory reading for schoolchildren and government officials across the former Soviet republic in central Asian.
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