Islam in Uzbekistan

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Eighty-eight percent of the population is Sunni (Hanafi) Muslim; 9 percent is Eastern Orthodox. Ethnic breakdown: Uzbek 80 percent, Russian 5.5 percent, Tajik 5 percent, Kazakh 3 percent, Karakalpak 2.5 percent, Tatar 1 percent, other 2.5 percent. Active Sufi orders include Naqshbandi, Qadiri, Kubrawi, and Qalandari. Islam arrived in Uzbekistan via trade and itinerant preachers in the seventh century. The modern capital, Tashkent, was the dominant political center during the tsarist and Soviet periods. Many Muslims defied or circumvented Soviet strictures by continuing to observe rituals and making forbidden pilgrimages to saints' tombs. Since independence (1991), unresolved social and economic problems and severe political and religious oppression have fueled radical elements such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The government has responded with mass arrests, detainment, and torture of Muslims unaffiliated with approved state Muslim organizations.

Subjects: Islam.

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