Uzbek Blogger Jailed for Facebook Post

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1/29/22

A court in Uzbekistan has sentenced a Muslim blogger to seven and a half years in prison for something many people do every day: posting an innocuous message on Facebook. The criminal court in Tashkent’s Almazar district on January 26 found Muslim blogger and government critic, Fazilhoja Arifhojaev, guilty of threatening public security by reposting and commenting on a social media post that had questioned whether it was appropriate for a Muslim to congratulate non-Muslims on their religious holidays. Arifhojaev was initially detained at the end of June last year on petty hooliganism charges, and sentenced to 15 days in detention. Instead of releasing him when his sentence ended the authorities charged him under criminal code article 244-1, part 3 (d) for “distributing or displaying materials containing a threat to public security and public order using mass media or telecommunication, or the Internet.” Over the years, Human Rights Watch has documented many cases where article 244-1 has been used to criminalize peaceful dissent and freedom of religion and belief in Uzbekistan, and has repeatedly called on the authorities to amend criminal code provisions on extremism, including article 244-1 and 244-2.

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