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Religion in Uzbekistan

Population

According to Countryaah data, Uzbekistan has an average population density of 74 residents per km2, but a large part of the population lives in the eastern part of the country, in the Fergana Valley or in the metropolitan area. More than half of the population lives in cities, of which the capital Tashkent is dominant. Other cities include Samarkand (509,000 residents, 2014) and Namangan (475,700). Natural population growth during the post-war period has been consistently high. However, the differences between city and country are large. During the 20th century a not insignificant move of mainly Russians took place. However, even before independence, this was changed into a net move. Russian residents are mainly concentrated in the capital and other major industrial societies.

Religions of Uzbekistan

The ethnic map of Uzbekistan is complicated. According to an estimate in 2008, the Uzbeks comprised 80 percent of the population, the Russians 5.5 percent, the Tajiks 5 percent, the Kazakhs 2.5 percent and the Tatars 1.5 percent. The proportions between Tajik and Uzbek are sometimes questioned; many bilingual Tajiks are considered to have chosen to declare Uzbek nationality for political reasons. The Russians' share of the population has decreased considerably since 1980. The deportations and displacements of the Stalin era meant that in the country there are still (2008) 176,000 Koreans (displaced from the Soviet Far East), 100,000-150,000 Crimean Tatars and 16,000 Vulgate Germans. However, these groups decrease as a result of emigration. This also applies to other minority groups. The Bohemian Jews have moved to Israel, but still in 2007 there were 5,000 left in the country. A large group of Greeks have also fled poverty and settled in Greece. However, a few thousand learn to remain in Uzbekistan. Since 1989, severe conflicts between ethnic groups have led to, among other things, ethnic cleansing and evacuations. Others have moved because of the political climate and economic situation.

Language

Uzbek is the official language of Uzbekistan and is spoken by about three quarters of the population. Other languages are Kazakh (in the northwest), Karakalpak (south of the Aral Sea), Tajik (in the south), Tatar and Russian.

Religion

Islam reached Uzbekistan as early as the 6th century and has dominated the area's cultural life since the Middle Ages. The majority of Uzbekistan's population are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafite law school. Islam was given an important role in Uzbekistan's identity building after independence in 1991, and the country's president Islam Karimov adapted to the new situation. hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). A large number of mosques have been rebuilt or reopened. However, freedom of religion is guaranteed in Uzbekistan's constitution. The Islamic festivals roza hayit (Id al-fitr) and the sacrificial feast qurbon hayit (Id al-adha) are celebrated as official holidays.

In recent years there has been a growing interest in Islamist movements in the country. The largest radical organization is the Uzbek part of Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose goal is to overthrow the current president. The authorities have equated all Islamist groups with terrorists, leading to arrests and persecutions. A militant Islamist organization is the IJG, which is believed to be behind a series of bombings in 2004. On May 13, 2005, security forces opened fire on protesters in Andizan. Karimov blamed Islamists, but probably social contradictions lay behind what ended in a massacre with a large number of dead.

Alongside Muslims, there are small groups of Russian Orthodox, Armenians, Catholics and a small group of evangelical Christians in Uzbekistan. There are also old groups of Zoroastrians and old believers. The religious minorities have emigrated on a large scale since independence. This applies not least to the Jewish group, both Ashkenazi and Bukharan Jews, which amounted to 95,000 around 1990. In 2007, they were estimated at 5,000, concentrated to Tashkent. There are 12 remaining synagogues in Uzbekistan. By and large, the abdominal group has moved to the United States.

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