Uzbek state television broadcast a previously unscheduled programme entitled "Hypocrites" on the evenings of 30 November and 1 December, attacking Protestant churches and accusing them of plagiarism and using drugs. The programme said: "On the pretext of financially helping people in need, they [these groups] instil their own teachings in these people's minds. Soon the targeted people become complete zombies." The programme cited and attacked many religious groups, including the
Begzot Kadyrov, specialist of the State’s Religious Affairs Committee, intervened only to criticise missionary activities. "Turning away from the religion of one's ancestors is not only one's own mistake but could also lead to very bad situations between brothers, sisters and between parents and their children." Whoever converts to Christianity “is lost to family, friends and society.” Local Christians told Forum 18 that their relationships with other people have deteriorated since the programme, which attracted a large audience.
The programme is at odds with a drive by the Uzbek government to gain points as a tolerant country that respects religious freedom. In 13 December, the government published the results of a survey on religious freedom conducted by the Ijtimoiy Fikr (Social Opinion) centre. According to this survey, only 3.9% of respondents complained about restrictions of this freedom. The results were sent to the websites of many embassies, especially of countries like
In November, the US State Department put
Sources of Forum 18 said the research centre in question was not independent and the survey “results” were “fabricated” for propaganda purposes. In any case, the number of respondents and criteria for establishing the degree of representation of the study sample were not revealed. The study claimed that 22% of Muslims have been able to make the Hajj pilgrimage to
Meanwhile, in recent weeks, some Protestant churches were shut down and heavy fines were handed down to believers. On 7 December, the Council of Churches Baptists (that refuses the registration stipulated by the government for all religious groups) denounced that “many religious services were disrupted... Believers have been forcibly taken to police stations” after which “fines have been imposed, even when just a few people have come together for prayer in a private flat."