Uzbek Government Prevents Import of Illegal Biblical Books
Uzbekistan, Tashkent, 19 June / corr. Trend T.Zhukov / The customs and justice bodies prevented the import of big batch of illegal religious literature to Uzbekistan. The Uzbekistan Biblical Society (UBS) tried to import biblical literature without official agreement and permission, the Religious Committee of the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan said.
The religious books (about 7,000 copies) were disguised as Russian-speaking literature. The inspection revealed that these are 3,495 copies in the Uzbek language in Cyrillic alphabet, 1,495 copies in the Uzbek language in Roman alphabet and 1,995 copies the Kara-kalpak language. These books were designed and ordered by the UBS. All publications have the logo of 'Uzbekistan Bibliya Zhamiyati' (Uzbekistan Biblical Society). The Justice bodies sent an official warning to the UBS on ban of its illegal activities, which did not correspond to the national legislation on freedom of conscience and religion, and regulations of the UBS.
Representatives of different Christian confession established the UBS in November in1993. In accordance with the regulations of the UBS, this organization is engaged in the translation of Bible into Uzbek, distribution and publication of the Sacred Scripture into the languages of other Central Asian nations, as well. The staff of this organization translated and published 4 books of the Old Testament in Uzbek, and they are designing seven books more. The work on the translation of the Old Testament into Uzbek began in 1998.
The UBS distributes the Sacred Scripture in audio cassettes and in the Braille script for blinds. The society is the interconfessional Christian organization, incorporating the followers of the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Church. This organization cooperates with the Translation Institute of Bible (Washington) and Witcliff Institute ( London) in its activity.
In accordance with the Uzbekistan Law on the freedom of conscience and religious organizations, adopted in May of 1998, all kinds of missionary activities, as well as missionary education, are banned in the country. All imported religious books pass the state censorship. An unauthorized religious activity is punished with 5 years in imprisonment. The actions targeting to change one confession into another (proselytism) are officially banned. The activities of several foreign non-government organizations, charged with proselytism by the Uzbek authorities, have been suspended since 2005.
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