Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Uzbekistan: Freedom Of Religion Or Extremism? 20 Bookstores Closed

Posted by Info on 31/03/2011

Twenty bookstores in the Kitoblar dunyosi (World of Books) book trading center have been raided by Uzbek National Security Service (NSS) agents, police, tax officers, and representatives of the government Committee for Religious Affairs in the past week and closed.
However the bookstore owners were selling only books approved by the state.

The U.S. State Department’s 2010 report on religious freedom says that in Uzbekistan possession of literature by authors deemed to be extremists, or of any literature illegally imported or produced, may lead to arrest and prosecution.
The government categorically prohibits leaflets on the banned group Hizb ut-Tahrir and literature on Nur, a Turkish Muslim group deemed extremist.

Local human rights activists say authorities have intensified their already tight grip on religion in the wake of the recent antigovernment uprisings in the Middle East.

Employees in various sectors have reported they have come under pressure not to perform the five daily Muslim prayers, including Friday Prayers, during working hours. Women working in offices and markets have complained they are being told by employers not to wear the hijab, or Islamic head scarf.Officials have confirmed around 15,000 Bibles have been confiscated in the past year.

Human rights groups have criticized the authorities, saying many people have been labeled “extremists” and jailed for peacefully practicing their religion.

Police claimed they were on a counterterrorism operation and are preparing a criminal and administrative case against the Baptists.

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