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Uzbekistan: Cinematic Morality Tale Chronicles the Rise and Fall of Ferghana Radicalism

A screenshot from the video footage filmed in Namangan in December 1991 that shows militant Islamist leader Tahir Yuldashev (left) verbally browbeating a stony-faced President Islam Karimov before a massive crowd of supporters. (Photo: Video screenshot)

Namangan, a city in Uzbekistan’s portion of the Ferghana Valley, was aflame last month. Bursts of gunfire punctured the air. A bus was set alight. Led by two fierce-eyed young men – Tahir and Juma – a mob shouted “Allahu Akbar!” and demanded vengeance against the authorities.
 
Many Namangan residents seemed shocked. Such spasms of discontent had not been seen in the city in decades. But this was no sudden outburst of pent-up frustration. It was the filming of a scene from a soon-to-be-released feature film titled “Sacred Desire.” The movie depicts decades-old events and the lives of militant Islamist leaders Tahir Yuldashev and Juma Namangani.
 
The telling of their story fits into a recent trend of cinematic morality tales produced by Uzbek authorities in an effort to discourage young people in present-day Uzbekistan from falling into the clutches of religious extremists.
 
Yuldashev and Namangani are played by little-known actors Komil Hamrayev and Dilmurod Massaidov respectively.
 
The residents of Namangan are conflicted about the movie, which filmed on locations around the city in July.
 

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Uzbekistan: Cinematic Morality Tale Chronicles the Rise and Fall of Ferghana Radicalism

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