After years of softening their approach to expressions of religiosity in society, Uzbekistani authorities are introducing new restrictions; At least a dozen restaurants were closed in the country’s capital, Tashkent They acted according to Islamic principles and did not sell alcohol. Radio Svoboda portal reports that the authorities have conditioned their activities to be included in the menu.
The move by the authorities is part of the latest crackdown Freedom of worship and restrictions on religious practices of Muslims. This may be related to authorities’ concerns about a wave of “religious radicalization” in Uzbekistan.
The owners of establishments that serve food call themselves “Halal”, which means, according to the principles of Islam, do not serve alcohol, because believers cannot drink it. These restaurants also have pooja rooms for customers. The restaurants closed by the authorities are located in different districts of Tashkent, but they are united by observing rules consistent with the Muslim faith.
Uzbekistan: Authorities crack down on Islamists
One of the restaurateurs, who asked to remain anonymous, told Radio Svoboda that the sanitary and epidemiological services checked the kitchen, tax inspectors checked the cash register and documents, and representatives of another service checked the restaurant’s prayer room. Their religious views and also Their cell phones were checked. No one has submitted documents authorizing the inspection. The restaurant was closed for no apparent reason. A similar fate befell a dozen or so other companies.
Radio Svoboda journalists asked Tashkent authorities for an explanation of the allegations, but received no response.
The owner of one of the shuttered catering establishments said he was called by “anti-terrorist services” officers a few days after the order to close the business. Advised to obtain liquor license And opened a small bar in his premises.
Directions to restaurants in Uzbekistan. “sell wine”
– Sell alcohol – you will work without any problems! – The officers said to him: “It is better if you do not oppose us.” They are also reported to have said: “We understand you, we are Muslims too, but this is necessary because foreign tourists love alcohol.”
According to Radio Svoboda, there should be more such conversations. Restaurants were also ordered to remove signs indicating that their premises were “Halal”.
Radio Svoboda reminds that the actions of the authorities coincided Reports of an increase in the number of detentions and interrogations of believersForced shaving of men’s beards and ban on women wearing the niqab in public. The opening of new mosques has also been banned.
Located in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is home to around 35 million people. Approximately 90 percent of the population professes the Muslim faith (mostly Sunni ritual).
Entrepreneurs have problems. Officials should sell alcohol
After coming to power in 2016, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev was known by foreign observers as the leader who restored many of the banned religious freedoms. His predecessor – Islam Karimov. As a result, Uzbekistan is no longer on the US State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern” regarding religious freedom.
But, recently there has been a change in the government’s policy. – Service to religion or government – Prime Minister Abdullah Aribov announced in September that he told his subordinates not to express confidence.
Radio Svoboda says the Tashkent regime’s fears are not unfounded. At the beginning of Uzbekistan’s independence (since 1991), religious groups began to appear Ready to openly question the secular state system. One of the most famous is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, accused by authorities of orchestrating a series of bomb attacks in Tashkent in the 1990s; Recognized as a terrorist organization; Its remnants are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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