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Uzbek Refugees In Sweden Rally For Jailed Muslim Women

STOCKHOLM -- Dozens of Uzbek refugees held a protest in Stockholm to support jailed Muslim women in Uzbekistan, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Exiled Uzbek imam Obidkhon Qori Nazarov told RFE/RL that the protest at the central Medborgplatsen square on December 16 was organized after the Uzbek community received news that 30 Muslim women were jailed in the southern Uzbek city of Karshi in November.

He said the protesters wanted to express their condemnation of the Uzbek officials' actions and their support for the jailed women.

Hasan Temirov, an Uzbek refugee, told RFE/RL that some 60 people participated in the protest.

He said protesters held banners with slogans such as "Freedom to jailed women" and "Stop repression against ordinary Muslims" written in English, Uzbek, and Swedish.

Temirov said Swedish people also showed interest in the protest, which was covered by the media.

He added that the protest was organized with the support of Nadejda Atayeva, an Uzbek rights activist in exile who heads the Paris-based Association for Human Rights in Central Asia.

Temirov said protesters also sent letters to the Swedish parliament, the EU Presidency (which is held by Sweden), the Swedish prime minister, and international human rights organizations to draw attention to the case.

On November 5, Mehriniso Hamdamova, 40, a teacher of a religious course for women at Karshi's Kuk Gumbaz Mosque, as well as many of her female relatives -- including her sister, a daughter-in-law, and nieces -- along with some other women were arrested and jailed.

In early December, five of the women were released. But the others remain jailed and are charged with various political and religious-extremism offenses.