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PRAGUE, July 31, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The trial of Uzbek Muslim cleric Rukhiddin Fakhrutdinov is scheduled to start in Tashkent city court today.
Fakhrutdinov faces a number of charges, including terrorism and religious extremism.
Fakhrutdinov fled Uzbekistan after a series of bombings in Tashkent and Bukhara in 2004 that were blamed by authorities on religious extremists.
He was detained in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, last year and forcibly returned to Uzbekistan.
In a statement released on July 28, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Fakhrutdinov had been abducted by Kazakh security agents, who "have yet to acknowledge any role in Fakhrutdinov's transfer to Uzbekistan."
HRW also expressed concern about Fakhrutdinov's right to a fair trial. The group says Fakhrutdinov was denied access to his attorney of choice for two months after his return to Uzbekistan and that he had indicated to his lawyer that he had been beaten while in Uzbek custody.
HRW says Fakhrutdinov is one of about 80 Uzbek nationals who fled to Kazakhstan to escape religious persecution. It says they have faced harassment, surveillance, and the threat of forced return.
(with material from Reuters)
A Muslim woman (left) watches a Christian procession in Madrid in March (AFP)
CONFERENCE ON ISLAM:
A major international conference on Islam concluded in Vienna in November 2005 with strong appeals from prominent Muslim leaders to recognize international terrorism as simply "terrorism." Political figures from Islamic countries, including the presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan, argued that it should never be labeled "Islamic" or "Muslim" terrorism because Islam is based on peace, dialogue, and tolerance. "Salaam" -- meaning "peace" -- was the key word of the three-day conference, titled "ISLAM IN A PLURALISTIC WORLD
Iraqi President Jalal Talibani and Afghan President Hamid Karzai used the word in their remarks to emphasize the peaceful nature of Islam. Other speakers quoted passages from the Koran to the effect that all men and women, regardless of faith, are creatures of God and should live in peace with each other without discrimination...(more)
Listen to Afghan President HAMID KARZAI
's complete address to the Vienna conference (in English):Real Audio Windows Media
Listen to UN special envoy LAKHDAR BRAHIMI
's complete address to the Vienna conference (in English):Real Audio Windows MediaTHE COMPLETE PICTURE:
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