July 3, 2006 -- Aziz Abidov, spokesman for the Uzbek State Religious Affairs Committee, today rejected criticism from a religious freedom organization over a new law on religion in Kyrgyzstan.
Last week, the Norway-based group Forum 18 expressed concerns about new restrictions on the publication and distribution of religious materials without a license and increased punishment for proselytizing.
Forum 18 pointed to closures or fines imposed on several Western-funded aid groups for alleged attempts to convert Uzbeks to "a religion of a Protestant character."
Abidov said the group was "beating the air" and "using any occasion to accuse Uzbekistan of persecuting believers."
Abidov said that despite existing bans, there are a number of religious groups who "continue aggressive missionary activities, ignoring local realities."
Uzbekistan's Supreme Muslim Council released a statement on June 30 fully supporting the government's policies on religion.
(compiled from agency reports)
THE COMPLETE STORY:
Click on the icon to view a dedicated webpage bringing together all of RFE/RL's coverage of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.