By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
UZBEKISTAN (ANS) -- In two separate cases on the same day in August in Samarkand and Kashkadarya, fines on 20 religious believers for "illegal religious literature" totaled the equivalent of nearly 68 years of the official minimum wage.
Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Before 1991, it was part of the Soviet Union.
According to a story by Mushfig Bayram for the Forum 18 News Service, in the Samarkand case, the judge ordered the confiscated literature - including the New Testament and the Pentateuch - destroyed. Uzbekistan's courts routinely order Muslim and Christian literature to be destroyed.
Begzod Kadyrov, Chief Specialist of the government's Religious Affairs Committee, told Forum 18, "Those are court decisions and the courts are independent from us."
Asked why such penalties are handed down, and why individuals cannot carry their religious books like the Koran or Bible with them, Forum 18 said Kadyrov replied, "According to the Religion Law, religious books are only allowed to be read within registered religious communities' buildings."
For more information visit www.forum18.org