Freedom of Religion in Uzbekistan - Societal Abuses and Discrimination

Societal Abuses and Discrimination

Uzbek society is generally tolerant of religious diversity but not of proselytizing. The population maintained its long tradition of secularism and tolerance. In particular, Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Jewish leaders reported high levels of acceptance in society. Evangelical or Pentecostal Christian churches and churches with ethnic Uzbek converts encountered difficulties stemming from discrimination. There were persistent reports that ethnic Uzbeks who converted to Christianity faced discrimination and harassment.

State-controlled media in some cases encouraged societal prejudice against evangelical Christians. After state television featured a two-part documentary directed against Christian evangelicals in November 2006, members of a leading Tashkent Pentecostal church reported severe harassment and escalating threats from their local community, culminating in a December 18, 2006, attack by hired thugs on a church deacon. Some of the articles in the state-controlled press included quotes from Russian Orthodox clerics criticizing evangelical activity.

There was no pattern of discrimination against Jews. Synagogues, Hebrew education, Jewish cultural events, and the publication of a community newspaper take place openly and undisturbed. Many Jews have emigrated to the United States and Israel, most likely because of bleak economic prospects and connections to families abroad, rather than anti-Jewish sentiment. There are Jewish kindergartens in Tashkent and Samarkand officially teaching Jewish culture. Investigations established that anti-Semitism was not a motive in the February 2006 death of a Tashkent Jewish community leader, Avraam Yagudayev, or the June 2006 killings of a twenty-year-old secretary to prominent Tashkent-based Rabbi David Gurevich, Karina Loifer, and her mother.

Unlike in previous years, there was only one report of individuals being charged with the distribution of HT leaflets, which often contain strong anti-Semitic rhetoric, during the period of this report. On August 10, 2006, the Uzbek Customs Committee stated on a government-run website that two Kazakh citizens were arrested for possessing HT books, magazines and leaflets.

Read more about this topic:  Freedom Of Religion In Uzbekistan

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