Radio Free Europe

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Uzbek Blogger, Government Critic Gets Lengthy Prison Term Over Facebook Post.

TASHKENT -- Uzbek Muslim blogger Fozilxoja Orifxojaev, known for his articles criticizing the Central Asian state's government for its restrictive religious policies, has been sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison over a post on Facebook.

The judiciary press service in Tashkent said the 41-year-old blogger was sentenced on January 26 after the Olmazor district court found him guilty of "distributing or displaying materials containing a threat to public security and public order using mass media, telecommunications, or the Internet."

Orifxojaev was arrested in June 2021 on petty-hooliganism charges over a heated confrontation in public with a pro-government blogger and cleric.

Orifxojaev was sentenced to 15 days in jail for that but he was not released from custody after serving his time and instead was charged additionally with threatening public security over a Facebook post in early March 2021 in which Orifxojaev discussed whether it was appropriate for a Muslim to congratulate non-Muslims on their religious holidays.

Human rights groups have urged the Uzbek authorities to drop all charges against Orifxojaev and release him, calling the case against him politically motivated.

Last week, the Mirobod district court in Tashkent sentenced another government critic, blogger Miraziz Bazarov, to three years of parole-like restricted freedom for slander.

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