Sweden: Uzbek news site critical of imam refugees
Uzbek news site UzNew published the following article, quite openly critical of Islamic radicalism among Uzbek refugees in Sweden.
In Sweden, Uzbek Muslim leaders, who escaped from the Uzbek authorities’ religious repression, have found not only the freedom of serving Islam but also a flock of Uzbek and other refugees in the new country.
Uzbek religious leaders, which were subjected to Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s repression, are becoming leaders in mosques that are opening in many places in Sweden.
They had never dreamt about this kind of freedom in Uzbekistan but in this northern European country they are easily renting any premises that their purses afford. As a result, another new mosque headed by an Uzbek imam has now appeared in Sweden.
A native of Andijon, Mamurjon-kori has received asylum in Sweden less than a year ago. Having settled in the town of Timro in the country’s north, he opened a mosque with the help of his like-minded associates. He rented and repaired an abandoned building and expanded some of its rooms for collective prayers.
Shortly after, Mamurjon-kori became a respected and influential man among Uzbeks and natives of other Muslim countries living in Timro.
Having suffered from Uzbekistan’s policy, the newly fledged leader of the mosque speaks with caution about the situation in his remote motherland. The religious leader’s soft and slow speech makes it clear that he is aloof from the political vanity in Uzbekistan and obedient to Allah’s will and divine administration.
The mosque leader says that Allah will reward the people suffering from in Uzbekistan’s dictatorial regime, its political, religious and economic repression, tortures and humiliations in torture chambers of law-enforcement bodies in this country and that they will be blessed when they pass away.
“We always pray for them, this is the only thing we can do,” Mamurjon-kori says.
Mosques similar to that of Mamurjon-kori are mushrooming up in Sweden. Many Muslims in the towns like Kalmar, Orebro, Hellefors and Stromsund are praying in mosques headed by Uzbek imams. Parishioners in these mosques include not only Uzbek refugees but also Muslims from other countries.
However, expanding their activities, Uzbek imams still speak cautiously when it comes to questions related to making their work, purposes, ideas and political positions public as if they fear that the Uzbek National Security Service’s invisible “eye” is continuing to watch their every step.
Mukimjon Mahmudov, the imam in a mosque in Hellefors, says that he and other religious leaders try to keep their activities low-profile because demonstrating their activities do more harm than good.
“We even urge Swedish journalists not to write about us,” he says. According to him, there has been a case of arson in the mosque headed by Obid-kori Nazarov, a well-known imam in Uzbekistan blacklisted by the Uzbek authorities as a leader of Uzbekistan’s Wahhabi movement.
In other words, Obid-kori’s business in Sweden is just thriving. In addition to disciples from Uzbekistan, his admirers include Chechens, Dungans, Uighurs, Afghans and others, who have highly appreciated the Uzbek imam’s knowledge.
This summer, Nazarov opened a children’s camp in Jamptland, a picturesque area in the north of Sweden for the second time and rented a villa for this purpose.
Children are enjoying the nature and spend some time on Islamic education everyday, listening to the imam’s lectures.
When journalists, including an Uznews.net correspondent, visited Obid-kori Nazarov’s camp, they saw a greeting sign in Uzbek at the entrance to the camp that reads “Welcome to summer camp!”
Seeing the Uzbek journalist from our news agency, children thought he was Swedish and were very surprised that he spoke Uzbek very well. It proved that children were discomforted by the fact that the correspondent did not have beard because all Uzbek men in the children’s circle had beard.
Intensive activities of the Uzbek religious leaders, who gained complete freedom in Europe, are yielding results. Many Uzbeks, who had not regarded themselves as religious prior to their arrival in Europe, have started visiting mosques and reading prayers.
One of the factors leading to Uzbek refugees’ Islamisation is that they obtained their first opportunity to study Islam and be Muslims without the fear of being repressed. At the same time, Uzbeks’ isolation and the absence of ideas other than their religious ones, which could unite and fascinate them, is not the least of the factors.
This is why, finding themselves in Europe, many of them are not becoming “Europeans” but, on the contrary, start following Oriental traditions and Islamic canons in a way stricter than in their motherland.
Muslim leaders’ influence on Uzbek girls and women is especially noticeable. It is likely that girls and women becoming less free than they were in Uzbekistan.
When they see men, they hide their faces, which are already covered with hijabs. They do not leave the kitchen if there are guests in their houses and just slightly knock the door to let men know that food is ready.
In a reply to UzNews, Obid-kori Nazarov says as follows:
“This is why, finding themselves in Europe, many of them are not becoming `Europeans’ but, on the contrary, start following Oriental traditions and Islamic canons in a way stricter than in their motherland.”
Some people ask if these words are hints implying that “Uzbek Muslims should be driven out of Europe” because in many parts of Europe Islamophobia sometimes shows its power. We have often had to hear Nazis’ calls that “Muslims should be driven out from Europe”.
Many understand that the purpose of this article is to denounce the imams mentioned in it. “Muslim leaders’ influence on Uzbek girls and women is especially noticeable. It is likely that girls and women becoming less free than they were in Uzbekistan.”
This tone resembles to words coming from (Uzbek President) Karimov’s propaganda machine. Karimov also began with pouring dirt on religious activists and, after all, he ended up subjecting ordinary Muslims and women to repressions. He is continuing his repressions. Despite the fact that there are people pursuing the same objectives in one or another way in Europe too, we hope that the European community will not go that far.
“When they see men, they hide their faces, which are already covered with hijabs. They do not leave the kitchen if there are guests in their houses and just slightly knock the door to let men know that food is ready.”
The question of women is not that monotonous as you describe it. Thank Allah, we have diversity here. A monotonous type does exist and journalists always want to show people. But there is also another type, a different picture. But these types did not emerge at somebody’s request, but by free choice. This shows pluralism of opinions within Islam. Because we acknowledge that women have the right to choose one of these types, it becomes clear that we are more democratic and tolerant than those who speak about themselves unambiguously. We say that women choose themselves whether to hide their faces or not. We do not want deprive women of their right and dictate how they should live.
Source: UzNews 1, 2 (English)