Various religions peacefully coexist in Uzbekistan
[newspaper headline] We are all under God
Independence has brought much wealth to our country, including the freedom of worship and the peaceful coexistence of religions. "A person cannot live without faith, I.A. Karimov [President, Islam Anduganiyevich] writes. This becomes very significant today when we are firmly standing on the road towards building a democratic law-governed state where equal and civilized relations among representatives of various religions prevail". [quotation marks and ellipses as given throughout]
The above is clearly confirmed in ancient Bukhara as well, where from ancient times spiritual perfection and religious tolerance have been honoured. Named seven ages ago by the great Amir Timur "the abode of holiness", it still shows the world how happily Muslims, Christians, Jews can live side-by-side... United by a common national idea, they work together in the name of the prosperity of native Uzbekistan...
Religious organizations can do much for the development of culture, strengthening of inter-ethnic accord, improvement of the ecological situation in the region and for increasing the people's well being. In complicated market conditions believers go on pilgrimage to the holy places of the world religions, develop the shrines, many of which are located in our native regions, as well as temples, where believers of various confessions pray.
During the last decade alone the number of registered religious communities in Bukhara Region has sharply increased and now there are 82 mosques, two Orthodox churches, two Korean and two Judaic organizations, a Baptist, New Apostle, Evangelical, Seventh-day Adventists and a Baha'i commune functioning here. Classes are under way in the women's Juybor-i Kalon madrassah [religious school].
[passage omitted: during the Soviet time mosques and churches were used for various purposes other than religious; now representatives of various religions mark their holidays and visit their own places of worship. They take part in various actions to further develop the country]
Conferences at regional and town administrations have become a tradition at which representatives of various denominations consider the problems of religious organizations. They also discuss measures to fight fundamentalism and extremism. Taking part in these actions are workers from prosecutor's offices and law-enforcement agencies.
New leaders are appearing in religious organizations: young people with a higher religious education and experience of intellectual work with people in modern conditions who have travelled to developed countries are becoming leaders.
Religious workers understand that social evils, like anywhere else, originate from unemployment, drug-addiction, prostitution and crime. [passage to end omitted: Kamolot movement and Spirituality and Education centre of Bukhara organize campaigns to provide young people with jobs and improve their legal awareness and their knowledge of legislation in the field of freedom of conscience. The state promotes relations of mutual tolerance and respect between various religions that have a single motherland] [p3]
©Copyright 2001, BBC Monitoring Central Asia