Friday, July 31, 2009

News from Uzbekistan

I do not suppose any reader will be terribly surprised that there is less than complete religious freedom in Uzbekistan (or, for that matter, any of the "stans"). Theoretically, there is, of course, just as the Soviet Constitution of 1936 was the most liberal in the world. Such a pity about it author, Nikolai Bukharin, being shot in 1938 after a trial that failed to live up to the most obvious of legal standards.

What Uzbekistan and other countries of that ilk do is to announce that all religious organizations must register with the government; then they can pick and choose whom to register and clamp down on all unregistered one. Organized civil society, you see.

I read with grim amusement the latest information from Forum 18, an organization that is dedicated to the promotion of religious freedom and tolerance, a thankless task.
In another case, after a police raid on a Baptist's home his library has been confiscated and sent for "religious expert analysis", local police told Forum 18. Amongst the books are works by Sir Walter Scott and Ivan Turgenev, a sign language book, a Koran translated into Russian, and a Russian Orthodox prayer book. The books' owner, Pyotr Zvonov, faces charges of "illegally producing, storing, importing and distributing of materials of a religious nature."
I wish them luck if they are going to wade through Scott's novels to find if there is anything of religious nature in them.

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