President Islam Karimov last month joined President Imomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan in an initiative led by Boris Yeltsin to resist “the advance of Islamic fundamentalism” and “the ideological threat from the south” – that is, from Afghanistan. In Uzbekistan, that campaign is taking on a decidedly totalitarian strain. According to state-controlled television broadcasts, “people in the Namangan region are concluding that too many mosques have been built and are asking that unnecessary mosques should be used for other purposes.” The authorities are “therefore turning the mosques into libraries, public service centers, sports facilities, and recreational centers.” Uzbekistan recently passed a law “‘On Freedom of Worship and Religious Organizations” that closely follows the Russian model.

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