Uzbekistan: Christians warned against sharing beliefs
According to the press release, a court in Uzbekistan today (20 December) rejected appeals by two Muslim prisoners of conscience - Gayrat Khusanov and Shuhrat Yunusov – against seven year jail terms for meeting with seven others to read the Koran and pray together, Forum 18 News Service has learned.
The other seven Muslims' appeals against three year suspended jail terms were also rejected.
Also, some officially-permitted Protestant churches in Tashkent Region have been told to remove statute provisions that their aims include sharing their beliefs. A Justice Ministry official denied this to Forum 18, despite this activity being banned in the Criminal and Administrative Codes. But another official thought there may have been "instructions from above". A local Protestant, who asked not to be named for fear of state reprisals, told Forum 18 "that this may be being done to stop Christian South Koreans from visiting or helping these churches" due to South Korean investments in Uzbekistan.
A Protestant from Karakalpakstan Region - which bans all non-Russian Orthodox and non-state-controlled Muslim communities – told Forum 18 that ethnic Koreans have been told that they must not have contacts with other countries. The authorities have also stated that "Uzbek or other ethnicities from a Muslim background should not come to churches".