Uzbek man wins right to wear beard
An Uzbek citizen managed to protect his good name and the right to wear a beard, considered by local officials an attribute of extremists, the Uznews website said.
Officials requested the 25-year-old Muslim, a resident of Uzbekistan’s second largest city of Samarkand, to provide a document proving his right to wear a beard when the man identified as Abdukhamid was applying for a new passport to replace his expired one.
The man, who was reportedly advised to turn to regional religious authorities for the requested permit, failed to get the document on his first attempt because the imam was “out of the office.”
He then turned to an imam of a local mosque, who in turn refused to give him official permission to wear a beard, fearing unwanted attention and pressure.
“I myself do not wear a beard so as to avoid being included in the list of bearded men,” the imam reportedly told Abdukhamid, adding authorities were “afraid” of bearded men, whom they considered members of local extremist organizations.
To clarify the issue, the man was to talk to a lawyer, who confirmed that the right to wear a beard was guaranteed by the Uzbek Constitution and that the authorities’ request for a special permit proving this right ran counter to the law.
According to Uznews, Abdukhamid did not abandon his efforts to protect his legal rights despite the lawyer’s advice of receiving the document or shaving off his beard.
Eventually, he managed to meet the top regional imam, who gave him the long-awaited document that stated the man was not an extremist and could wear a beard.
The news service said the officials, who illegally ordered the 25-year-old to get the document, were surprised when he provided it, saying it was a rare case when a bearded man managed to meet such a requirement.
Human rights violations are frequent in Uzbekistan, as well as in other Central Asian states.
MOSCOW, March 9 (RIA Novosti)