Uzbekistan: Devout Muslims Targeted in Sweeps
A rights group in Uzbekistan has reported that police have over the past week been raiding the homes of families known for their devout Islamic beliefs.
Surat Ikramov, head of the Tashkent-based Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders, said in a statement on Facebook on November 20 that 79 people from Tashkent and districts surrounding the city were detained and that all but seven were later released.
Ikramov earlier cited some of the people taken in custody as saying that they were questioned about the whereabouts of a criminal suspect called Guzal Tohtahodzhayeva, who has been wanted since 2008 on suspicion of belonging to an extremist religious group and conspiring to overthrow the government.
The sweep represents something of a reversal on a recent softening in the official stance against communities of perceived devout Muslims, who have often been included in blacklists of potential radicals.
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