The Uzbekistan Education Ministry issued an order that bans people under 18 years old from Friday prayer services, even during Eid at the end of September.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), official Ubaidullo Azimov claims “that the government’s position was that ‘children’s brains should not be distracted’ from school studies by religion.” He stated that “children should only learn what is taught at school.” The students should not wrap themselves with religious studies until they “have finished their high-school studies.”
Parents could face a $750 fine, which is “equal to 15 months’ salary at the country’s minimum wage.” The government also told imams not to allow children to enter mosques.
President Islam Karimov signed a decree in August that makes September 24 a holiday so “Muslims can celebrate Eid,” but it did not mention anything about banning kids from mosques.
This news broke a day after a video surfaced showing a young Uzbek jihadi male, aligned with al-Nusra Front, breaking down in tears right before taking part in a suicide attack bomb mission in Syria. Media identified the male as 20-year-old Jafar al-Tayyar. He fought as part of Imam Bukhari Jamaat, “an Uzbek-led faction that pledged allegiance to the Afghan Taliban last year.” The faction released the video on September 20.
An Imam Bukhori militant spoke with RFE/RL in August. The man wanted to tell the world about the group’s opposition to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS).
“IS is a group with a false ‘aqidah’ [Islamic creed]. Its leader [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi is a person who likes to indulge in pleasures, he is a depraved person,” he said.
He called Baghdadi’s followers “ignoramuses” and bashed them for calling non-ISIS people infidels even though they smoke. He also found problems with Baghdadi’s permission to kill other Muslims. RFE/RL reports:
“In Raqqa, there is an oil plant. It was captured by Jabhat al-Nusra. After Baghdadi attacked [Nusra], spilling the blood of around a thousand mujahedin [jihadist fighters], and taking about one and a half thousand captive, he took the oil plant for himself,” the militant said.
“Once [IS] declared it permissible to kill Muslims, to confiscate their property, sell their women for $500 at the bazaar, a fatwa was issued for us to fight against IS. If they come onto our territory then we will fight against them.”
RFE/RL reports that Tawhid wal-Jihad (TWJ), another Uzbek group in Fua that has “fought many times alongside the Nusra Front,” has released a video showing one Uzbek fighter who allegedly survived a suicide attack. He told the other militants he “exploded a remote-controlled vehicle bomb,” but appears shocked. He collapsed with the other fighters cheering him.
In August, Usmon Ghazi, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), announced allegiance to ISIS. The move did not surprise RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service (Azatlyk) since dishonesty and secrets strained their relationship with the Taliban in Pakistan where the majority of IMU militants reside.