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Uzbekistan responds to State Dept. CPC listing
By: Associated Press ( NC

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Uzbekistan accused the United States of practicing double standards on human rights issues Friday after Washington listed the former Soviet republic as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom.
Last week, Uzbekistan was included in the annual State Department list of “countries of particular concern,” which have a record of denying their citizens basic religious freedom and human rights.

Since the late 1990s, thousands of peaceful Muslims worshipping outside state-sanctioned mosques have been branded Islamic radicals and jailed on what human rights activists say were trumped-up charges. Some, rights advocates say, have been tortured.
Unregistered religious activity is a crime in Uzbekistan , according to Human Rights Watch, as is the possession and distribution of literature not approved by the state.
Authorities say militants are determined to topple the secular governments of Central Asia and turn the region into an Islamic Caliphate, and that the detentions were needed to curb extremism.
Many Protestant churches, which flourished in Uzbekistan after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union , have also faced increasing official pressure. President Islam Karimov, meanwhile, maintains close ties with Moscow , and the Russian Orthodox Church, which serves a sizable Russian minority, enjoys official recognition.
In recent months, Uzbekistan has closed or fined several Western-financed aid groups for allegedly trying to convert Uzbeks to “a religion of a Protestant character.”