Uzbekistan (the Republic of Uzbekistan) is a state located in the central part of the Central Asia. It borders Kazakhstan in the north and northwest, Kyrgyzstan in the northeast, Turkmenistan in the west and Tajikistan and Afghanistan in the south. The capital city is Tashkent. The population of Uzbekistan is around 27.372.000, the majority is Uzbeks. The national minorities are Tajiks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, Turkmens, Russians, Armenians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Greeks, Azerbaijanis and Turks. Uzbekistan is the most populous, but also the poorest country in the Central Asia. It is the fifth country in the world in production and export of cotton. The major part of the agriculture of the country is focused on growing cotton.
Eighty-eight percent of the population consists of Muslims, mainly Sunni, and 10% are Christians.
The state language is Uzbek.
Uzbeks come from ancient sedentary Iranian tribes, and those tribes in turn were formed of nomadic Mongol and Turkish tribes, which overtook the region. Uzbek language belongs to Turkish language group of Altai language family. ‘Uzbek’ name has originated later, and one of the hypotheses of its origin is the name of tribe of Uz (Oguz).
For centuries, the territory of Uzbekistan has been under the influence of different religions; first Zoroastrianism, then Buddhism, and later, in the 8th century, Arabs brought Islam to Central Asia, which entered to Uzbekistan as well. Each religion has left its mark on customs and worldview of Uzbek people.
From the 8th century B.C., on the current territory of Uzbekistan there were different states: Baktrian, Khoresm and Soghdiana. An important economic and cultural center was Marakanda (Samarkand).
Today Islam is again dominant in Uzbekistan. The legislature of the Republic of Uzbekistan has created a strong legal basis, which complies with the norms of the International Law. According to the Constitution of Uzbekistan, the state has to pay special attention to freedom of speech and religion, religious education, charities, pilgrimages, and to ensuring coexistence of and strengthening of cooperation between all the religious denominations. However, the facts show the opposite.
The country is under dictatorial regime, which is blamed for widespread violations of human rights, among which is constant application of torture. From 2005, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has listed Uzbekistan among countries of particular concern.
Although Uzbekistan is a secular state, the religious law of the country forbids unregistered religious activities. As obtaining registration for a Church is almost impossible, there are more than 50 unregistered communities spread throughout the country. The Government openly persecutes Christians, especially active groups. Almost all Christians consist of national minorities who are treated with particular cruelty. Proselytism is illegal.
In Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, Christians take their Bibles and other Christian literature out of their houses; the pastors warned their church members that they must not keep their Bibles and Christian literature at their homes, but give them to the Church.
Law enforcement bodies often search the houses of Christians, and if Christian books and Bibles are found, they demand a fine in the amount of 100 living wages. Although nor the Bible, nor even other Christian books are in the list of forbidden literature, however, the examination of the Committee of Religious Affairs in Uzbekistan uses the same argument, according to which that type of literature is allowed to keep only on the territory of the Church. Currently in case of finding a Bible, the family is imposed a separate fine of $4.000.
Torture is used widely to force adults and children to deny their faith or to confess a crime, their own or of another person’s. The authorities artificially delay detentions of religious prisoners, and in places of confinement, Christians, both men and women, are cruelly abused.
In the regions of the country, the police launched a campaign, the goal of which was to prevent participation of children in Church services.
The secret police of Uzbekistan is intercepting and spying on the places of worship; they hire people who penetrate in Churches to inform about their activities