09/25/2023, 00.00
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Tashkent: war on beards and veils against Islamic radicalism

by Vladimir Rozanskij

In the campaign to combat "excessively explicit manifestations of the Muslim religion" in public places launched by President Mirziyoyev, schoolgirls are forced to tie the khidžab behind the nape of their necks and houses are raided to confiscate "inappropriate clothing". Some shop owners are forbidden from displaying signs and insignia in Arabic.

Tashkent (AsiaNews) - The authorities of Uzbekistan are intensifying the campaign to combat excessively explicit manifestations of the Muslim religion in public places and in social life. As Radio Ozodlik illustrates, those who profess Islam are forced to cut their beards, and women are prevented from wearing the khidžab, the local version of the Islamic veil.

There is a video circulating online in which some students from the Bankovskij college in the city of Andižan are forced in rather violent ways to weave their veils behind their heads, and those who refuse to do so are not admitted to the lessons.

Such cases are frequent in Uzbekistan, such as that of the third-year student of the Bukhara Technological Engineering Institute, Fatima Abdullokh, who appealed to the daughter of President Šavkat Mirziyoyev, Saida, with a request to defend the students forced to take off their khidžab.

Similar measures were also taken at the Čirčik pedagogical institute, in the Tashkent region, where the management demanded that the Uzbek language and literature student Karomat Mukimova take off her khidžab if she wanted to keep her place in the student hostel.

There were also raids organized on the homes of inhabitants of the provinces of Zangiata and Yangiyol, where men in black masks carried out searches to take all the clothing deemed inappropriate, because it was considered a sign of Islamic radicalism.

To try to govern the situation, Mufti Nuriddin Khaliknazarov, president of the Muslim administration, issued a criticism against "religious excesses" regarding clothing, behavior, pilgrimages and other issues related to Islamic devotion.

According to the mufti "we have often overestimated the issue of religious clothing in culture, creating a mentality according to which there are mandatory codes for external appearance.

There are the rules left to us by the Prophet, which do not impose particular forms, in fact ours is not a religion of a single nation or of a single climatic region... as the prophet Muhammad says, in reality Allah does not look at your appearance, nor to your properties."

Many Facebook users report persecutions against bearded men; Alikhontra Šokiron reports what happened at the market in the Sergelijsk district of Tashkent, where ten men with long beards were arrested by the police and sentenced to fifteen days of detention.

Another account reports a series of attacks in two neighborhoods of the capital, those of Mirzo-Ulugbekskij and Almazarsk, where the police publicly shaved the beards of some people, one of whom tried to resist, even ending up him in cell for two weeks.

Various forceful actions were authorized by the Department for Combating Economic Delinquency, the Tashkent Prosecutor's Office and the Revenue Agency, even by the State Health and Epidemiological Service.

Dozens of bars and shops regularly frequented by the most Orthodox faithful were closed, accusing them of not respecting health regulations or other infractions, when the real cause was always beards and khidžabs.

Religious literature bookstores, but also perfumeries and all clothing stores are kept under close observation, also prohibiting the owners from displaying signs and signs in Arabic.

The fight against "aesthetic radicalism" was inaugurated a few months ago, when the parliament of Uzbekistan, inspired by President Šavkat Mirziyoyev, introduced changes to the Code of Conduct in Public Places.

Only those who carry out a ministry in religious associations are allowed to wear "garments of worship" in public. Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov and the President of the National Security Service, Abdusalom Azizov, also publicly spoke out against "the growth of religious radicalism in the country".

Photo: Flickr /  Arian Zwegers

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