Uzbek authorities have canceled a controversial plan to demolish an ancient minaret and replace it with a fountain in the eastern city of Andijon.
A local official said the decision to indefinitely suspend the demolition has been made by a special government commission that visited the site, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported on January 6.
"The commission [from the central government] met with local residents who had filed complaints against the demolition plans. … The residents voiced their opinion and then the commission decided to disallow the removal of the minaret," said Abdussafi Rahmonov, a high-ranking official at the Andijon provincial government.
The more than 700-year-old minaret and prayer room -- which are part of a historical religious complex in central Andijon known as Musalla -- were built in the second half of the 13th century.
The initial plan to demolish the complex had sparked angry reactions by activists, historical preservationists, and many local residents, who sent a protest letter to Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev last year calling on him to spare the historic site.
The activists had argued that the removal of the ancient Muslim structures would be illegal because they are protected as historical monuments.