10/05/2006, 00.00
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Sisters of Mother Teresa under state control

The local Justice Ministry is inquiring into the legality of the Missionaries of Charity's presence in the country. The authorities plan to crackdown on foreign NGOs, considered bearers of "Western ideas".

Tashkent (AsiaNews) – The Uzbek Justice Ministry is conducting a planned check of possible irregularities in the Missionaries of Charity's presence in the country, a source in the Uzbek Justice Ministry told Interfax. "The ministry will examine the representative office's compliance with Uzbek law and the goals set in the charter," he said.

The Order of the Missionaries of Charity was founded by Mother M. Teresa in Kolkata, India, and now has houses in most parts of the world. Their work is universally praised for its complete devotion to the "poorest of the poor".

The organisation has operated in Uzbekistan since 1995, and the Uzbek Justice Ministry re-registered the representative office in March 2004.

For several months Uzbek authorities, following the lead of their Russian counterparts, have pursued a more restrictive policy vis-à-vis foreign non-governmental organisations.

In July for instance, the US-based Central Asia Free Exchange (CAFE) was unjustly closed accused of "illegal religious activities" and Christian proselytising.

For some analysts, the true objective is to shut down foreign NGOs to stop any possible influence of western culture on the Uzbek population.

In Uzbekistan, 90 per cent of the population is Muslim and violations of religious freedom are commonplace. The government's aim is to control every aspect of society.

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