07/25/2013, 00.00
UZBEKISTAN
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Tashkent, pensioners fined and Bibles destroyed: 'The state is obsessed with religion'

National Police launch a series of simultaneous raids near the Uzbek capital in search of religious books and materials. Two elderly people "guilty" of having sacred texts at home forced to pay a fine equal to two years pension. A Protestant source: "The authorities moved by fear."

Tashkent (AsiaNews) - The Uzbek national police have launched a series of raids in the village of Tuyabuguz - near the capital - in search of both Christian and Muslim religious books and materials. The "fruit" of this operation led to the seizure and subsequent destruction of some Bibles and Korans and 4 people fined, "guilty" of having sacred texts in their homes. This was reported by Forum 18, which specializes in the protection of religious freedom in Central Asia.

According to several sources, "the followers of different religions now live in a state of terror, and are afraid to keep religious objects or writings at home. Some have even begun to destroy them with their own hands rather than see them seized and end up in the hands of the police. 'National law prohibits the possession of the sacred books but does not allow this type of raid: they ignore their own laws. "

The Uzbek law considers detention of religious literature "illegal" but "only if it is connected to extremism and incites hatred." However, the courts often have to destroy the confiscated materials in the home after the "opinion" of some "experts", who generally define all the books that talk about religion as "extremist". The State, a source continues, "seems obsessed with religion in the broadest possible sense. Anyway, I know many Christians who nonetheless have not destroyed their Bibles."

In addition to the seizure and destruction, the authorities use fines as a deterrent especially against the elderly - still tied to religion and living on state pensions. In the latter case, the fines have gone from 1500 to 2100 euros: those who were fined receive 70 per month.

 

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