Uzbekistan: Current Day, And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Uzbekistan

Introduction Russia conquered Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance to the Red Army after World War I was eventually suppressed and a socialist republic set up in 1924. During the Soviet era, intensive production of “white gold” (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry. Independent since 1991, the country seeks to gradually lessen its dependence on agriculture while developing its mineral and petroleum reserves. Current concerns include terrorism by Islamic militants, economic stagnation, and the curtailment of human rights and democratization.
History The territory of Uzbekistan was already populated in the second millennium BC. Early human tools and monuments have been found in the Ferghana, Tashkent, Bukhara, Khorezm (Khwarezm, Chorasmia) and Samarkand regions.

Alexander the Great conquered Sogdiana and Bactria in 327 BC, marrying Roxana, daughter of a local Bactrian chieftain. The conquest was supposedly of little help to Alexander as popular resistance was fierce, causing Alexander’s army to be bogged down in the region. For many centuries the region of Uzbekistan was ruled by Iranian Empires, including the Parthian and Sassanid Empires.

In the fourteenth century AD, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, overpowered the Mongols and built an empire. In his military campaigns, Tamerlane reached as far as the Middle East. He defeated Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, who was captured, and died in captivity. Tamerlane sought to build a capital for his empire in Samarkand. Today Tamerlane is considered to be one of the greatest heroes in Uzbekistan. He plays a significant role in its national identity and history. Following the fall of the Timurid Empire, Uzbek nomads conquered the region.

In the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire began to expand and spread into Central Asia. The “Great Game” period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, a second, less intensive phase followed. At the start of the nineteenth century, there were some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) separating British India and the outlying regions of Tsarist Russia. Much of the land in between was unmapped.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Central Asia was firmly in the hands of Russia, and despite some early resistance to Bolsheviks, Uzbekistan and the rest of Central Asia became a part of the Soviet Union. On 27 October 1924 the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. On August 31, 1991, Uzbekistan declared independence, marking September 1 as a national holiday.

The country is now the world’s second-largest exporter of cotton, and it is developing its mineral and petroleum reserves.

Geography Location: Central Asia, north of Afghanistan
Geographic coordinates: 41 00 N, 64 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 447,400 sq km
land: 425,400 sq km
water: 22,000 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than California
Land boundaries: total: 6,221 km
border countries: Afghanistan 137 km, Kazakhstan 2,203 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,099 km, Tajikistan 1,161 km, Turkmenistan 1,621 km
Coastline: 0 km (doubly landlocked); note – Uzbekistan includes the southern portion of the Aral Sea with a 420 km shoreline
Maritime claims: none (doubly landlocked)
Climate: mostly midlatitude desert, long, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid grassland in east
Terrain: mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along course of Amu Darya, Syr Darya (Sirdaryo), and Zarafshon; Fergana Valley in east surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; shrinking Aral Sea in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sariqarnish Kuli -12 m
highest point: Adelunga Toghi 4,301 m
Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, coal, gold, uranium, silver, copper, lead and zinc, tungsten, molybdenum
Land use: arable land: 10.51%
permanent crops: 0.76%
other: 88.73% (2005)
Irrigated land: 42,810 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 72.2 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 58.34 cu km/yr (5%/2%/93%)
per capita: 2,194 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: shrinkage of the Aral Sea is resulting in growing concentrations of chemical pesticides and natural salts; these substances are then blown from the increasingly exposed lake bed and contribute to desertification; water pollution from industrial wastes and the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides is the cause of many human health disorders; increasing soil salination; soil contamination from buried nuclear processing and agricultural chemicals, including DDT
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: along with Liechtenstein, one of the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world
Politics Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for democracy. The executive holds a great deal of power, and the legislature and judiciary have little power to shape laws. Under terms of a December 27, 1995 referendum, Islam Karimov’s first term was extended. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to extend the Constitutional Presidential term from 5 years to 7 years. The referendum passed, and Karimov’s term was extended by act of the parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament, consisting of a lower house (the Oliy Majlis) and an upper house (Senate). Members of the lower house are to be “full time” legislators. Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on December 26, but no truly independent opposition candidates or parties were able to take part. The OSCE limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Several political parties have been formed with government approval. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties were allowed to organize, recruit members and hold conventions and press conferences, but they have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures. Terrorist bombings were carried out March 28, 2004 – April 1, 2004 in Tashkent and Bukhara.
People Population: 27,345,026 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29% (male 4,047,918/female 3,870,346)
15-64 years: 66% (male 8,971,017/female 9,079,170)
65 years and over: 5% (male 588,498/female 788,077) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 24.3 years
male: 23.8 years
female: 24.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.965% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 17.99 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -3.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 24.23 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 28.61 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.69 years
male: 68.69 years
female: 74.87 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.01 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 11,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 500 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Uzbekistani
adjective: Uzbekistani
Ethnic groups: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5% (1996 est.)
Religions: Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%
Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.3%
male: 99.6%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years
male: 12 years
female: 11 years (2007)
Education expenditures: 9.4% of GDP (1991)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Uzbekistan
conventional short form: Uzbekistan
local long form: Ozbekiston Respublikasi
local short form: Ozbekiston
former: Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type: republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Capital: name: Tashkent (Toshkent)
geographic coordinates: 41 20 N, 69 18 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 12 provinces (viloyatlar, singular – viloyat), 1 autonomous republic* (respublika), and 1 city** (shahar); Andijon Viloyati, Buxoro Viloyati, Farg’ona Viloyati, Jizzax Viloyati, Namangan Viloyati, Navoiy Viloyati, Qashqadaryo Viloyati (Qarshi), Qoraqalpog’iston Respublikasi [Karakalpakstan]* (Nukus), Samarqand Viloyati, Sirdaryo Viloyati (Guliston), Surxondaryo Viloyati (Termiz), Toshkent Shahri**, Toshkent Viloyati, Xorazm Viloyati (Urganch)
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence: 1 September 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 1 September (1991)
Constitution: adopted 8 December 1992
Legal system: based on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Islom KARIMOV (since 24 March 1990, when he was elected president by the then Supreme Soviet)
head of government: Prime Minister Shavkat MIRZIYOYEV (since 11 December 2003); First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam AZIMOV (since 2 January 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president with approval of the Supreme Assembly
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term; previously was a five-year term, extended by constitutional amendment in 2002); election last held 23 December 2007 (next to be held in 2014); prime minister, ministers, and deputy ministers appointed by the president
election results: Islom KARIMOV reelected president; percent of vote – Islom KARIMOV 88.1%, Asliddin RUSTAMOV 3.2%, Dilorom T0SHMUHAMEDOVA 2.9%, Akmal SAIDOV 2.6%
Legislative branch: bicameral Supreme Assembly or Oliy Majlis consists of an upper house or Senate (100 seats; 84 members are elected by regional governing councils and 16 appointed by the president; to serve five-year terms) and a lower house or Legislative Chamber (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 26 December 2004 and 9 January 2005 (next to be held December 2009)
election results: Senate – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NA; Legislative Chamber – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – LDPU 41, NDP 32, Fidokorlar 17, MTP 11, Adolat 9, unaffiliated 10
note: all parties in the Supreme Assembly support President KARIMOV
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Supreme Assembly)
Political parties and leaders: Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party [Dilorom TOSHMUHAMEDOVA]; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milliy Tiklanish) or MTP [Hurshid DOSMUHAMMEDOV]; Fidokorlar National Democratic Party (Self-Sacrificers) [Ahtam TURSUNOV]; Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan or LDPU [Adham SHADMANOV; People’s Democratic Party or NDP (formerly Communist Party) [Asliddin RUSTAMOV]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Agrarian and Entrepreneurs’ Party [Marat ZAHIDOV]; Birlik (Unity) Movement [Abdurahim POLAT, chairman]; Committee for the Protection of Human Rights [Marat ZAHIDOV]; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party [Muhammad SOLIH, chairman] (was banned 9 December 1992); Ezgulik Human Rights Society [Vasila INOYATOVA]; Free Farmers’ Party or Ozod Dehqonlar [Nigora HIDOYATOVA]; Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan [Talib YAKUBOV, chairman]; Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan [Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman]; Mazlum; Sunshine Coalition [Sanjar UMAROV, chairman]
International organization participation: ADB, CIS, CSTO, EAEC, EAPC, EBRD, ECO, FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, SCO, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Abdulaziz KAMILOV
chancery: 1746 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 887-5300
FAX: [1] (202) 293-6804
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Richard B. NORLAND
embassy: 3 Moyqo’rq’on, 5th Block, Yunusobod District, Tashkent 100093
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [998] (71) 120-5450
FAX: [998] (71) 120-6335
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and green separated by red fimbriations with a white crescent moon and 12 white stars in the upper hoist-side quadrant
Culture Uzbekistan has a wide mix of ethnic groups and cultures, with the Uzbek being the majority group. In 1995 about 71% of Uzbekistan’s population was Uzbek. The chief minority groups were Russians (8%), Tajiks (5%), Kazaks (4%), Tatars (2.5%) and Karakalpaks (2%). It is said, however, that the number of non-Uzbek people living in Uzbekistan is decreasing as Russians and other minority groups slowly leave and Uzbeks return from other parts of the former Soviet Union.

When Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991, there was concern that Muslim fundamentalism would spread across the region. The expectation was that a country long denied freedom of religious practice would undergo a very rapid increase in the expression of its dominant faith. As of 1994, well over half of Uzbekistan’s population was said to be Muslim, though in an official survey few of that number had any real knowledge of the religion or knew how to practice it. However, Islamic observance is increasing in the region.

Uzbekistan has a high literacy rate, with about 99.3% of adults above the age of 15 being able to read and write. However with only 88% of the under-15 population currently enrolled in education, this figure may drop in the future. Uzbekistan has encountered severe budgeting shortfalls in its education program. The education law of 1992 began the process of theoretical reform, but the physical base has deteriorated and curriculum revision has been slow.

Uzbekistan’s universities churn out almost 600,000 graduates annually.

Economy Economy – overview: Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country of which 11% consists of intensely cultivated, irrigated river valleys. More than 60% of its population lives in densely populated rural communities. Uzbekistan is now the world’s second-largest cotton exporter and fifth largest producer; it relies heavily on cotton production as the major source of export earnings and has come under increasing international criticism for the use of child labor in its annual cotton harvest. Other major export earners include gold, natural gas, and oil. Following independence in September 1991, the government sought to prop up its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production and prices. While aware of the need to improve the investment climate, the government still sponsors measures that often increase, not decrease, its control over business decisions. A sharp increase in the inequality of income distribution has hurt the lower ranks of society since independence. In 2003, the government accepted Article VIII obligations under the IMF, providing for full currency convertibility. However, strict currency controls and tightening of borders have lessened the effects of convertibility and have also led to some shortages that have further stifled economic activity. The Central Bank often delays or restricts convertibility, especially for consumer goods. Potential investment by Russia and China in Uzbekistan’s gas and oil industry, as well as increased cooperation with South Korea in the realm of civil aviation, may boost growth prospects. In November 2005, Russian President Vladimir PUTIN and Uzbekistan President KARIMOV signed an “alliance,” which included provisions for economic and business cooperation. Russian businesses have shown increased interest in Uzbekistan, especially in mining, telecom, and oil and gas. In 2006, Uzbekistan took steps to rejoin the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Community (EurASEC), which it subsequently left in 2008, both organizations dominated by Russia. Uzbek authorities have accused US and other foreign companies operating in Uzbekistan of violating Uzbek tax laws and have frozen their assets.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $72.76 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $26.62 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 8.3% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $2,700 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 28.2%
industry: 33.9%
services: 37.9% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 15.28 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 44%
industry: 20%
services: 36% (1995)
Unemployment rate: 0.9% officially by the Ministry of Labor, plus another 20% underemployed (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 33% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 29.6% (2003)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 36.8 (2003)
Budget: revenues: $8.005 billion
expenditures: $8.127 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 13.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 13.5% officially, but 38% based on analysis of consumer prices (2008 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $36.89 million (2005)
Agriculture – products: cotton, vegetables, fruits, grain; livestock
Industries: textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, gold, petroleum, natural gas, chemicals
Electricity – production: 48.79 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 42.23 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 11.52 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – imports: 11.44 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 88.2%
hydro: 11.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 99,260 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 157,100 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 11,940 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 31,440 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 594 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 65.19 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 51.18 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 14.01 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 1.841 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $5.726 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $9.96 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: cotton, gold, energy products, mineral fertilizers, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, textiles, food products, machinery, automobiles
Exports – partners: Russia 22.4%, Poland 10.4%, Turkey 9.4%, Kazakhstan 6.1%, Hungary 6%, China 5.6%, Ukraine 4.8%, Bangladesh 4.3% (2007)
Imports: $6.5 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, ferrous and non-ferrous metals
Imports – partners: Russia 30.1%, China 13.3%, South Korea 13%, Germany 6.3%, Kazakhstan 6.2%, Ukraine 4% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $172.3 million from the US (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $10.15 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $4.052 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $NA
Currency (code): soum (UZS)
Currency code: UZS
Exchange rates: Uzbekistani soum (UZS) per US dollar – 1,317 (2008 est.), 1,263.8 (2007), 1,219.8 (2006), 1,020 (2005), 971.265 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 1.821 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 10.4 million (2008)
Telephone system: general assessment: antiquated and inadequate; in serious need of modernization
domestic: the main line telecommunications system is dilapidated and telephone density is low; the state-owned telecommunications company, Uzbektelecom, is using loans from the Japanese government and the China Development Bank to improve mainline services; completion of conversion to digital exchanges planned for 2010; mobile services are growing rapidly, with the subscriber base reaching 10.4 million in 2008
international: country code – 998; linked by fiber-optic cable or microwave radio relay with CIS member states and to other countries by leased connection via the Moscow international gateway switch; after the completion of the Uzbek link to the Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic cable, Uzbekistan plans to establish a fiber-optic connection to Afghanistan (2008)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 12, shortwave 3 (2008)
Radios: 10.8 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 28 (includes 1 cable rebroadcaster in Tashkent and approximately 20 stations in regional capitals) (2006)
Televisions: 6.4 million (1997)
Internet country code: .uz
Internet hosts: 38,183 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 42 (2000)
Internet users: 2.1 million (2008)
Transportation Airports: 54 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 33
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 13
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 4 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 21
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
under 914 m: 19 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 9,725 km; oil 868 km (2007)
Railways: total: 3,950 km
broad gauge: 3,950 km 1.520-m gauge (620 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways: total: 86,496 km
paved: 75,511 km
unpaved: 10,985 km (2000)
Waterways: 1,100 km (2008)
Ports and terminals: Termiz (Amu Darya)
Military Military branches: Army, Air and Air Defense Forces, National Guard
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 1-year conscript service obligation; moving toward a professional military, but conscription will continue; the military cannot accommodate everyone who wishes to enlist, and competition for entrance into the military is similar to the competition for admission to universities (2007)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 7,480,484
females age 16-49: 7,542,017 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 5,684,540
females age 16-49: 6,432,976 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 324,094
female: 323,923 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 2% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: prolonged drought and cotton monoculture in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan creates water-sharing difficulties for Amu Darya river states; field demarcation of the boundaries with Kazakhstan commenced in 2004; border delimitation of 130 km of border with Kyrgyzstan is hampered by serious disputes around enclaves and other areas
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 39,202 (Tajikistan); 1,060 (Afghanistan)
IDPs: 3,400 (forced population transfers by government from villages near Tajikistan border) (2007)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Uzbekistan is a source country for women and girls trafficked to Kazakhstan, Russia, Middle East, and Asia for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation; men are trafficked to Kazakhstan and Russia for purposes of forced labor in the construction, cotton, and tobacco industries; men and women are also trafficked internally for the purposes of domestic servitude, forced labor in the agricultural and construction industries, and for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Uzbekistan is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in 2007; the government did not amend its criminal code to increase penalties for convicted traffickers; in March 2008, Uzbekistan adopted ILO Conventions on minimum age of employment and on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and is working with the ILO on implementation; the government also demonstrated its increasing commitment to combat trafficking in March 2008 by adopting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law; Uzbekistan has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)
Illicit drugs: transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and, to a lesser extent, Western European markets; limited illicit cultivation of cannabis and small amounts of opium poppy for domestic consumption; poppy cultivation almost wiped out by government crop eradication program; transit point for heroin precursor chemicals bound for Afghanistan

‘The Crescent Must be Above the Cross’: Muslim Persecution of Christians 2016

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CREEPING SHARIA’S WEBSITE)

‘The Crescent Must be Above the Cross’: Muslim Persecution of Christians 2016

Source: ‘The Crescent Must be Above the Cross’: Muslim Persecution of Christians: September, 2016 – Raymond Ibrahim

by Raymond Ibrahim

In September 2016, a group of escaped ISIS sex slaves finally revealed the true fate of Kayla Mueller  — the 26-year-old American aid worker in Syria whom ISIS had reported dead more than a year ago. Her former fellow captives said Mueller had “refused to deny Jesus Christ despite being repeatedly raped and tortured.” In February 2015, ISIS claimed their captive had been killed during a Jordanian airstrike and sent photos of her dead body in a white burial shroud, apparently as a sign of respect. One former sex slave said that Mueller “put others before herself,” and once even refused a chance to escape with the other girls because she thought her American appearance would stand out and endanger the others.

An ISIS-related plot to butcher Christians with chainsaws in a Belgian shopping center was exposed in September after authorities interrogated a Muslim youth. The teen—and son of a man being described as a “radical imam”—was arrested for calling for the execution of Christians while walking down a street.  Theo Francken, a Belgian official, said, “I already signed the order to remove the Imam from Belgian soil. But he appealed the decision, so I can only hope for a quick sentence. Clearly radicalism runs in the family.”

Speaking for the first time about the slaughter of the 86-year-old French priest Jacques Hamel, eyewitness Guy Coponet—who was himself stabbed several times, including in the neck, and was not expected to survive—revealed how the jihadi murderers also forced him to hold a camera and record them slitting the throat of the elderly priest: “They even checked the quality of the image and that I wasn’t trembling too much. I had to film the assassination of my friend Father Jacques!” He said the assailants planned on using the video as propaganda, “which would allow them to earn their fame as a ‘martyr’ of Allah.”

Meanwhile, Hungary became the first government in Europe to open an office specifically to address the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Europe. Zoltan Balog, Hungary’s Minister for Human Resources, said, “Today, Christianity has become the most persecuted religion, where out of five people killed [for] religious reasons, four… are Christians. In 81 countries around the world, Christians are persecuted, and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies.” This move came weeks after Prime Minister Victor Orban drew criticism in the EU by saying, “If we really want to help, we should help where the real problem is…. We should first help the Christian people before Islamic people.”

Around the same time—and despite the many instances of Muslim migrants raping, murdering, and terrorizing Europeans—Pope Francis urged Europeans to take in more Muslim refugees, including into their homes. He explained that the best way to combat terrorism is by warmly welcoming migrants and helping them integrate into the “European context.”

The rest of the bloody month of September’s worldwide Muslim persecution of Christians includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Violence, Prison, and Death for Christian “Blasphemers” and “Apostates”

Jordan: Nahed Hattar, a Christian writer and activist, was killed on September 25 outside of a courthouse in Amman. The 56-year-old man was earlier arrested for sharing a “blasphemous” cartoon about the prophet Muhammad. As he was walking into court to stand trial for “contempt of religion” and “inciting sectarian strife,” a man dressed in traditional Muslim garb shot him dead.  The report adds: “Approximately 70 percent of Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa have blasphemy laws that make it illegal to criticize or dishonor religious symbols and teachings. In practice, many of these laws apply exclusively to Islam.”

Uganda: One Muslim convert to Christianity was killed and two others beaten in three separate incidents:

  • The blood-stained body of 32-year-old Enoch Shaban—a Muslim convert to Christianity and member of the Church of Uganda—was found hanging from a tree. A local resident of the village said he heard Shaban shouting for help after another man said, “We have warned you several times of being a disgrace to our religion, and you have not taken seriously our warnings.” The witness added: “Two weeks before meeting his death, he had mentioned several messages on his phone warning him to recant the Christian faith and return to Islam.” The slain apostate appeared to have been struck on the head with a metallic object. The morning before his death, Muslims were reportedly seen conspicuously loitering around his workshop, a mile away from the murder scene. Although Uganda is majority Christian, the area where Enoch was killed is predominantly Muslim.
  • On the same day Shaban was killed, Aisha Twanza, 25—another Muslim convert to Christianity in Uganda—was poisoned by Muslim family members who put insecticide in her food. After their conversion last January, Aisha and her husband were forced to flee their village because relatives threatened to kill them. On August 10, family members informed Aisha that her mother was dying; she rushed to the village only to find that it was a lie to lure her back. Questioned about her conversion to Christianity, she refused to deny her new faith. “They were very disappointed with me for deserting Islam.” Her family then served her food and allowed her to return home: “Reaching home, I started feeling stomach upset that continued….Soon the pain intensified, and my husband rushed me to Mbale hospital, then I was taken to Pallisa, where poisoning was discovered after several tests. I never expected my parents to do such a thing to me, but I thank God for saving me.”
  • A Muslim husband savagely beat his wife after she attended church. Neighbors found Fatuma Baluka, 21, unconscious and rushed her to a hospital: “When I arrived home [from church that day], my husband shouted at me as an ‘infidel,’ and then and there started hitting me with a metallic object. I fell down, only to find myself in a hospital bed.” She has since been abandoned by her husband and extended Muslim family.

Ethiopia: Six weeks after a Muslim man discovered that his wife and mother of his three children had converted to Christianity, he locked her in the house and beat her with sticks; during her ordeal, neighbors heard him shouting—including that she “should die for forsaking Islam.” Neighbors found her soaked in blood from a deep gash in her forehead and rushed her to the hospital.

Pakistan: A 16-year-old Christian youth was arrested and could be executed for the crime of “blasphemy.” He allegedly posted or liked a picture of the Kaaba, Islam’s sacred temple in Mecca, with a pig on top of it on Facebook. Infuriated Muslims who saw the image immediately reported it to authorities which led to his arrest. Authorities also removed the image in an effort to calm local Muslims and prevent them from rioting. The arrested youth’s family fled their home in fear of reprisals. Accusations of blasphemy against Pakistan’s minorities are common and often false. Religious hatred, personal score settling, and economic gain are just a few of the motives behind false accusations of blasphemy.

Malaysia: Three Muslims who sought to legally convert to Christianity were denied conversion by the court system due to the implementation of Sharia, or Islamic law, which maintains that anyone born into Islam—i.e., whose father was Muslim—must remain Muslim. According to a source discussing this report, those trying to convert are often sent to a “purification center,” where they are made to recite different Islamic creeds so they are again considered Muslim. “This purification center utilizes torture, beatings, and psychological attacks to terrify new believers into recanting their faith in Jesus Christ.”

Muslim Slaughter of Christians in Nigeria

The ongoing jihad on Christians by both Boko Haram, an Islamic jihad group, and allied Muslim herdsmen, left many dead in its wake:

  • At least eight Christians were randomly shot dead by militants on motorbikes as they were exiting Sunday church service. A couple of weeks earlier Boko Haram had said it would begin “booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those who we find from the citizens of the cross.”
  • Another senior priest was kidnapped after his car was ambushed by Muslim herdsmen; during the attack they violently beat and tried to kill two other clergy in the car, including by shooting one in the head. On the same day a Vincentian priest was kidnapped along with his brother. Discussing these and other attacks on Christian clergy in recent weeks and months, several fatal, the communications director of the local diocese said: “One begins to wonder if Catholic priests have become an endangered species.”
  • Boko Haram insurgents killed at least two people during raids on Christian villages. They tied up one man with a rope and slaughtered him in front of his wife and children. They also burned homes and set the market square of one village ablaze.
  • A group of Fulani Muslim tribesmen attacked a 60-year-old Christian farmer while he was working his land and hacked him to death with machetes. He is “the latest victim of attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nasarawa state who have burned church buildings and homes and destroyed crops in the past four years,” said the report.
  • According to a separate report, Muslim Fulani tribesmen also killed another Christian pastor; raided Ningon village—murdering two Christians as they slept in their homes, and seriously wounding a girl with gunshots; and raided the Christian village of Ungwar Mada, forcing their way into a married couple’s home and slaughtering them.

Dhimmitude: Muslim Contempt for and Abuse of Christians

Saudi Arabia: Officials arrested 27 Christians—including several women and children—for the crime of “conducting Christian prayers” and being “in possession of Bibles.” The group of Christians, most if not all of whom were Lebanese nationals, were celebrating a feast day for the Virgin Mary when authorities stormed their residence and arrested them. Authorities, the dreaded “religious police,” proceeded to strip them of their visas and deport them back to Lebanon. Ironically, this is a much better fate than that suffered by other Christians caught engaging in “acts of Christianity” in the Islamic kingdom. In 2012, 35 Christian Ethiopians were arrested and abused in prison for almost a year, simply for holding a private house prayer. One of them reported after being released: “They [Saudis] are full of hatred towards non-Muslims.”

Iran: At least 25 Christians were arrested in Kerman for unknown reasons. Security forces broke into the Christians’ homes, searched them, seized various objects, and then took the Christians in.  Officials did not reveal the reason for the arrest nor where the Christians were taken, leaving family and friends in distress.

In another incident, authorities raided a family garden party after they noticed it wasn’t closely observing conservative Islamic norms; without a warrant they arrested five men, former Muslims who had converted to Christianity. Then they searched the premises and confiscated several items, including three Bibles. The arrested men were taken to an unknown location, though later reports suggest they were sent to Evin prison, where Iran’s worst criminals are caged.

Uzbekistan: Eight Christians were arrested and fined for possessing Christian literature, which is illegal in the Muslim majority nation. One Baptist, Stanislav Kim, was sentenced to two years in a corrective labor camp for being caught with Christian literature a second time in one year. The Christian literature was ordered to be handed over to the state-backed Muslim Board.

Malaysia: After Ben-Hur, originally a novel, was readapted into a 2016 movie and hit the big screen, movie goers were left disappointed and confused, as authorities cut out all scenes that portrayed Christ or had anything to do with Christianity, making the movie unintelligible. “I felt cheated,” said one viewer: “The novel from which this movie is adapted is Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ. It means Jesus is central to the plot. It was censored so much the storyline made no sense! How did Judah’s mother and sister get cured from leprosy? They just appeared at the end of the movie healed.” Such anti-Christian edits are consisted with the government’s ban on and confiscation of Bibles in the majority Muslim nation.

Egypt: After weeks of more frequent than usual attacks on the Christian minority in Minya, Upper Egypt, the government responded by appointing a Muslim cleric, Mahmoud Gomaa, to investigate the situation. Gomaa then appeared in a televised interview insisting that “Everything was good…. No one has been killed. No one has even been wounded. There’s no conflict. The problem is really with the journalists writing about it.” Bishop Makarios of Minya responded by saying, “I have nothing to do with Mahmoud Gomaa. We are at a breaking point. People can’t put up with any more of this.” He explained how in recent weeks Christians have indeed been killed—including a priest who was gunned down at the entrance of his church and a man who was stabbed to death by an angry mob—as well as numerous incidents of mob violence on Christians which left many injured and their properties looted and/or burned.

United States: In September, when Coptic Christians were suffering abuses “every two or three days” in Egypt, an Egyptian Muslim woman living in America made a video calling for more Muslim hostility against Egypt’s Christian minority, in the guise of an economic boycott. In a video, Ayat Oraby—a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer who has nearly 1.5 million followers on Facebook—called the Coptic Church a “bunch of gangsters,” a “total mafia” that “rules [Egypt] behind the curtains.” The Copts are reportedly “stockpiling weapons in churches” and “striving to create a Coptic statelet” in order to continue waging “a war against Islam.” That Oraby hates Copts simply because they are Christian came out clearly towards the end of her tirade, when she said: “They [Copts] must learn very well that the Crescent [Islam] must be above the Cross [Christianity.]” In fact, Copts pose no danger to Egypt’s Muslims — but they dare to want equal rights, when they should be content with second-class status.


Read it all and thousands more examples over the last five years in Raymond Ibrahim’s archives.

Jailed Princess: Will She Be Freed, Exiled, Killed, Or Become President?

(This article is courtesy of the Washington Post)

Uzbek president’s death puts a new spotlight on the strange story of the country’s ‘jailed princess’

September 3 at 7:25 AM

As the head of an authoritarian regime sometimes likened to North Korea, Islam Karimov was known to be ruthless. The president of Uzbekistan whose death became public Friday was accused of having his political opponents jailed, exiled or even killed.

A particularly delicate case, however, is his daughter Gulnara Karimova, 42, who was believed to be one potential successor of Karimov until a few years ago.

Her fall demonstrated how divided a country Uzbekistan had become — and how brutal Karimov’s leadership had turned.

Karimova made headlines in 2014, when she was put under house arrest by her father. Secret recordings, obtained by theBBC and published that year, offered a firsthand account of how Uzbekistan’s once-most prominent face has turned into the country’s most famous prisoner.

In the secret recordings that were later sent abroad via USB stick, Karimova said: “I’m not talking about myself now. We need medical help.” She indicated that “no one [answered] why we’re kept in the house,” and she seemed particularly worried about her daughter Iman, who suffers from a heart condition.

Did Islam Karimov consider his daughter a threat to his own popularity?

According to a confidential U.S. diplomatic cable from 2008, published by Wikileaks, Karimova used to be a favorite of her father and was simply referred to as the “Uzbek princess.” After graduating from Harvard in June 2000, she became adviser to several foreign affairs officials and advanced to the position of deputy foreign minister.

In a 2005 U.S. cable, she was described as “the single most-hated person” in the country. According to the cable, she was perceived as greedy, power-hungry and interested in using her father’s power to her own financial advantage. The diplomatic analysis concluded that recent PR campaigns “promoting [her] virtue and selflessness [were] likely part of a larger strategy to clean up the First Daughter’s image.” Another file from 2010 specifies that by then, Karimova was believed to own the largest conglomerate of Uzbekistan, which she used “in support of [her] private business interests.” But then, things started to go wrong.

When the suspicious conglomerate was abruptly shut in 2010, Karimova moved on to become ambassador to Spain and the Uzbek representative to the United Nations in Geneva. At the same time, she successfully worked on an alternative career as a singer. John Colombo, who produced one of her music videos, told theBBC that, back then, Karimova “owned the country. She was everywhere.” As her alter-ego GooGoosha, she dominated Uzbek radio stations and, according to Colombo, “people seemed to love her” — a remarkable change after having been described as the most-hated Uzbek only years earlier.

The glamour of her music videos, however, didn’t win over her critics. At a runway show in New York promoting Karimova’s brands in 2011, protesters demanded an end to alleged child labor in Uzbekistan and tried to raise awareness of the precarious human rights situation in the country. The show was canceled by organizers of New York Fashion Week.

In 2011, the Associated Press critically described Karimova: “Glamour queen. International diplomat. Plunderer of the poor.” In 2013, she was overwhelmed by a major corruption scandal in Sweden, in which journalists made public that Telecommunications giant TeliaSonera had allegedly bribed Uzbek officials to enter the country’s mobile phone market. Despite denials from TeliaSonera, the path of the money was traced back by prosecutors to Karimova — a scandal in which she seems to have lost the loyalty and support of her dictatorial father.

Karimova faced a separate investigation related to money laundering in Switzerland in March but is believed to have already been under house arrest back home by then. According to the Economist, Uzbek tax prosecutors had recently begun to look into her businesses.

Her empire rapidly crumbled: Charities and TV stations belonging to her were shut down, luxury stores and jewelry lines she had founded were closed. Although her Twitter account has since been suspended, she voiced loud protest on the social media platform, writing that the forced closures were “a serious attack on civic organizations, and on thinking society as a whole.”

Within only six years, Karimova went from being Uzbekistan’s deputy foreign affairs minister to the reputed owner of the country’s largest conglomerate. After working in secret, she became the most prominent face and voice of the Uzbek nation. Then, she turned into one of the most outspoken critics of the country’s government. Photos sent to The Washington Post in 2014 appeared to show confrontations between Karimova and her guards, while she was under house arrest.

Such confrontations “occur all the time whenever she tries to go out the door, to get some air or to see if people are around and particularly when she is requesting extra food,” her spokesman, Ryan Locksley, told The Post then.

Karimov’s death has now put a new spotlight on the fate of his daughter, who was once supposed to succeed him.

A version of this post was first published in 2014. It was updated Sept. 3, 2016. 

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