Uzbekistan is no longer worst religious tolerant state at US list | Eurasia Diary -

14 December, Saturday

Uzbekistan is no longer worst religious tolerant state at US list

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The United States has removed Uzbekistan from a list of countries with the worst religious tolerance for the first time in more than a decade as its new president courts Western nations, FRE/RL reports. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on June 21 highlighted the progress made by the Central Asian nation as he delivered the annual U.S. report on international religious freedom.

“In Uzbekistan, much work still remains to be done, but for the first time in 13 years it is no longer designated as a country of particular concern,” Pompeo said at a conference in Washington.

"We look forward to seeing legal reforms to registration requirements so more groups may worship freely and so children may pray in mosques with their parents.”

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has been trying to end the isolation his country endured under his authoritarian predecessor since he came to power three years ago.

Uzbekistan has freed more than 1,500 religious prisoners and is permitting 16,000 people who were blacklisted for their religious affiliations to once again travel, Pompeo said during the presentation.

That enabled the United States to drop Uzbekistan from a short list of nations -- which includes Iran, Saudi Arabia, as well as Central Asian nations Turkmenistan and Tajikistan -- that tolerate severe religious repression.

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