Uzbek Islamic Leader Targeted by Hitman
|Publisher||Institute for War and Peace Reporting|
|Publication Date||25 February 2012|
|Cite as||Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Uzbek Islamic Leader Targeted by Hitman, 25 February 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f4ca3182.html [accessed 16 September 2014]|
A well-known Islamic cleric from Uzbekistan now living in Sweden was in critical condition this week after he was shot several times by a hitman.
Obidkhon Qori Nazarov, 54, was attacked near his home in the town of Stromsund, The gunman fled after the cleric called out for help after being shot several time. Police found a silencer nearby, suggesting a premeditated professional hit.
Obidkhon Qori was a leading cleric in Uzbekistan in the 1990s, and his mosque in the capital Tashkent became a magnet for Muslims who wanted to avoid the state-controlled version of religion.
The cleric's reputation made him a target for the security services as they harassed and arrested independent preachers and their followers. In 1998, he and his family fled, and have been living as refugees in Sweden since 2006.
Although many years have passed, the Uzbek authorities still appear to fear Nazarov's enduring popularity. His name has featured in a number of cases, most recently a 2011 trial in which a group of individuals were given long prison terms for alleged radical activities. They had been extradited from Kazakstan despite having refugee status there.
In 2010, 15 alleged fundamentalists were given lengthy sentences after being convicted of killing a police colonel and trying to kill a Muslim cleric. (See Uzbekistan's Hidden Trials)
Nazarov denied any involvement in these cases.
Uzbek opposition figures abroad believe this week's attack was carried out by the government security services.
According to Kamoliddin Rabbimov, a political analyst in France, Nazarov remains an influential figure in the country, enjoying greater respect than many from the secular opposition.