Uzbek citizen detained in Russia, charged with “religious extremism”
A 37-year old citizen of Uzbekistan was arrested in Omsk, Russia; Uzbekistan charges him with religious extremism, SuperOmsk.Ru reports. The detainee’s name is not disclosed. He is currently arrested and extradition papers are being filed. If extradited, he faces up to 15 years of imprisonment for “establishing, leading and participating in religious extremist, separatist, fundamentalist and other banned organizations” and “illicit preparation, storage, import and distribution of materials with religious content.”
According to the press service of the Regional Administration of the Border Service under the Federal Security Service, the Uzbek citizen was detained on 23 February 2013. A fake Kyrgyz passport was found on his person. Interrogations also found that shortly before his arrest, Kyrgyz law enforcers seized a Russian passport from him, which he received illegally from the Russian Federal Migration Service in Omsk Region.
According to the regional prosecutor’s office, the detainee is an active member of the Nurchilar religious party, which is banned in Uzbekistan. The group, also known as Nurcular, follows the Turkish theologian Said Nursi.
“As an active member of the Nurchilar, he has conspired with other members to conduct illegal religious assemblies. Also, thanks to financial assistance from one of the movement leaders, he has procured a building in [Uzbekistan’s] Fergana Region and established an education center to further increase activities,” Ms. Tatyana Borodina, chief aide to the regional prosecutor, said.
The Nurchilar group is banned both in Uzbekistan and Russia. However, experts of the field believe that Said Nursi’s teachings cannot be labeled “extremists,” because his dogmas do not include the notions of jihad in its militant form; Nursi followers believe it is prohibited. According to a scholar of Islam, Mr. Bayram Balci, Nursi and his chief follower, Fethullah Gulen, are more concerned with education of Muslims and their integration into the modern world and they are far from political Islam. Gulen strives to form via education a new generation of modern individuals, who would be attached to their traditions and religious values.