More than a month ago, authorities arrested for 15 days a believer named Yakub (surname to be confirmed) from the village of Sharlavuk, Balkan province, simply because he taught children the Koran. The believers of the village characterize him on the positive side. (During the holidays, parents send their children to study Islam with practicing believers, this is called “Hujure” ).
During these 15 days, Yakub was forbidden to pray, as well as receive parcels from his relatives outside. Currently, he is under the constant attention of the authorities, who have labeled him a “Wahhabi.” If the “offense” is repeated, he faces punishment as a member of a Wahhabi group of up to 6 years in prison, - our sources from Turkmenistan said.
Earlier, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that: “In the city of Turkmenbashi and the region of the same name in the Balkan province, government officials come to the houses of citizens who, in their opinion, observe Islamic traditions too zealously, conduct searches and confiscate any religious literature from them, except the Koran.”
Authorities continue to persecute believers for spreading the teachings of Islam. Now this has been confirmed to us once again by the victims’ relatives. There were cases when one had to serve 15 days just because CDs with religious recordings were found in the car.
Moreover, the issue concerns not only the distribution of religious literature, discs with recordings of sermons, but also any group study of the Koran outside mosques or places not controlled by the authorities. Also, just recently, the head of the BL-K/4 “Akdash” colony prohibited the transfer from outside of several copies of the holy book of the Koran to prisoners.
Practicing Islam for many years, K.S. from Ashgabat shared: “It is no secret for Turkmens that imams in mosques are appointed by the authorities, and in fact are freelance employees of the Ministry of National Security of Turkmenistan.”
Those wishing to make a pilgrimage abroad must apply for permission from imams. “For several years now, the state price for performing the Hajj to Mecca has been about 20 thousand manats. But at this price, only relatives and acquaintances of the imams perform the hajj. For everyone else, the price is from 80 to 200 thousand manats. But even with this amount, not every provincial will be able to leave, since most of the quotas are allocated to believers from my Akhal province,” said K.S.
Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights