01/07/2016, 00.00
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Tashkent stops the demolition of a 700-year-old minaret

Urban redevelopment would have knocked down the 13th century structure, which is part of a religious complex called Musalla. At 32 metres, it is tallest building of its kind in the Fergana Valley. A government-appointed commission is set up to meet residents’ concerns.

Tashkent (AsiaNews/Agencies) –Uzbekistan has abandoned plans to demolish a 700-year-old minaret in the eastern city of Andijan.

Last month, activists, conservationists, and social media reacted to council mock-ups for a redevelopment of the city centre, which included plans for a fountain in lieu of the 32-metre structure, the tallest in the whole Fergana Valley.

Local historians and conservation campaigners complained angrily in a letter to Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

The prime minister himself had launched the redevelopment, but his government eventually dispatched a special commission to the city.

"The commission [from the central government] met with local residents who had filed complaints against the demolition plans,” said Abdussafi Rahmonov, a high-ranking official with the Andijan provincial government. 

“The residents voiced their opinion and then the commission decided to disallow the removal of the minaret," he explained.

Residents and activists have in fact stressed the cultural significance of the structure, which is part of a historical religious complex known as Musalla, which is protected as an historical monument.

An official within the city council said the minaret had been earmarked for demolition over concerns that it could not withstand the powerful earthquakes that occur in the region – this despite having done so for hundreds of years.

Local conservationists told the visiting commission that the minaret is already fitted with metal anti-earthquake supports to prevent a collapse.

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