Shuhrat Ghaniev apologized after denigrating the outer symbols of the Islamic religion. Since 1998, an Uzbek law has prohibited Muslim women from wearing clothing that covers their heads in public, except for religious ceremonies. Fundamentalism used as a “pretext” to suppress dissent.
Tashkent (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The Uzbekistan Senate has sentenced the governor of the Ferghana region to three months’ probation. Last week, Shuhrat Ghaniev sparked outrage in public opinion and politics with some comments considered offensive to the Islamic religion against long beards and headscarves.
At a rally in his area, Ghaniev issued a warning to district administrators. “” Remember this, dear governors: if I see a woman in such clothes in your official meetings – I don’t care if she is a neighborhood leader, a teacher, a businesswoman, an activist , a legislator – I will take off his headscarf and put it in your mouth, “he said.
As for the long male beards, an outward sign of men of Muslim faith, he described them as “unpleasant” and inciting Islamic extremism.
Ghaniev issued a public apology in order to avoid the restrictive measure imposed by the parliamentary branch of which he is a member. The politician is known for his often exaggerated and colorful statements, going so far as to label his rival colleagues as “stupid”.
The eastern Ferghana region is one of the most populous areas of the former Soviet Republic, with approximately 3.6 million inhabitants. However, in the country, authorities have long imposed a strict policy of controlling outward manifestations of religion, restricting the use of the hijab in schools and offices. Since 1998, a law has prohibited Muslim women from wearing clothing that covers their heads in public, except for religious ceremonies.
In all the countries of Central Asia, the danger of fundamentalist drift new generations is seen as an absolute urgency on the part of the authorities. That is why governments limit the number of departures for pilgrimages to Mecca, carry out arbitrary detentions suspected extremists who often confess under torture. However, experts point out the risk that Islamic terrorism is used as a “pretext” by governments to suppress internal dissent.