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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Uzbek Law Restricts Religious Freedom

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- Authorities will now be able to restrict religious freedoms for national security reasons under a sweeping new law that took effect Friday in mostly Moslem Uzbekistan.

The law, passed two weeks ago by parliament, appears directed at the Wahhabis, a fundamentalist Islamic sect blamed for recent violence in the former Soviet republic in Central Asia. Uzbek President Islam Karimov said previous laws were inadequate to stem the growth of the sect, originating in Saudi Arabia. Karimov's government alleges that Wahhabis are intent on installing an Islamic government in place of his secular one.

Karimov has accused Wahhabis of killing officials and destroying food-processing plants, water reservoirs, power stations and other strategic sites.

The law requires all religious groups to register with the government. It bans political parties based on religion and says minors cannot take part in religious organizations or missionary activities.