Freedom of Religion in Uzbekistan

Freedom Of Religion In Uzbekistan

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and for the principle of separation of church and state; however, the Government continued to restrict these rights in practice. The Government permits the operation of what it considers mainstream religious groups, including approved Muslim groups, Jewish groups, the Russian Orthodox Church, and various other Christian denominations, such as Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Baptists. Uzbek society generally tolerates Christian churches as long as they do not attempt to win converts among ethnic Uzbeks; the law prohibits or severely restricts activities such as proselytizing, importing and disseminating religious literature, and offering private religious instruction.

The status of religious freedom remained restricted with a specific decline for some Pentecostal and other Christian groups during the period of this report. A number of minority religious groups, including congregations of some Christian denominations, continued to operate without registration because they had not satisfied the strict registration requirements set out by the law. As in previous periods, Protestant groups with ethnic Uzbek members reported operating in a climate of harassment and fear. Using new criminal statutes enacted in 2006, the Government brought criminal charges against two pastors. One was sentenced to 4 years in a labor camp; the other received a suspended sentence and probation. Law enforcement officials raided and harassed some unregistered groups, detaining and fining their leaders and members. The Government continued its campaign against unauthorized Islamic groups suspected of extremist sentiments or activities, arresting numerous alleged members of these groups and sentencing them to lengthy jail terms. Many of these were suspected members of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), a banned extremist Islamic political movement, the banned Islamic group Akromiya (Akromiylar), or unspecified "Wahhabi" groups. The Government generally did not interfere with worshippers attending sanctioned mosques and granted approvals for new Islamic print, audio, and video materials. A small number of "underground" mosques operated under the close scrutiny of religious authorities and the security services.

Religious groups enjoyed generally tolerant relations; however, neighbors, family, and employers often continued to pressure ethnic Uzbek Christians, especially recent converts and residents of smaller communities. There were several reports of sermons against missionaries and persons who converted from Islam. A Pentecostal deacon was severely beaten after his church was prominently featured in a documentary on state television directed against Christian evangelicals. Unlike in previous periods, 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.

Read more about Freedom Of Religion In Uzbekistan:  Religious Demography, Societal Abuses and Discrimination

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Freedom Of Religion In Uzbekistan - Societal Abuses and Discrimination
... 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 ...

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