Tashkent’s head Imam stabbed outside his home

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by Noah Tucker on 8/6/2009 · 4 comments

[Updated 7 August] This story is a week old–I’ve been meaning to post on it for a couple of days, but maybe it’s just as well because the details are still pretty fuzzy. What sources agree on, though is that Imam Anvarqori Tursunov was stabbed outside his home at around 10:30 p.m. on 31 July and remains hospitalized in serious condition. Anvarqori is the official Imam Khitab of Tashkent and potentially in line to become the chief Mufti of Uzbekistan. This is the second unsolved attack on a Tashkent religious figure in the last 30 days.

Ferghana.ru has a very short account in English and a much better one in Russian. The best source I’ve seen in English so far is a relatively concise one from 5 August at RFE/RL. And thanks to Eren Tasar for pointing me to the much more in-depth article at RFE/RL’s Uzbek service Ozodlik Radiosi.

The last Ozodlik Radiosi article is the most recent of the bunch and makes it very clear that a great deal is both unknown still about what happened and why and also that a lot of the early information–at least according to Anvarqori’s deputy, Ergashali Rustamov–was inaccurate.

Anvarqori, center, in an undated photo from RFE/RL

Anvarqori, center, in an undated photo from RFE/RL

Contrary to early reports, Rustamov says that none of Anvarqori’s several (7-9 I think is the range in these articles) stab wounds is life-threatening and his condition is improving. According to his deputy as of 5 August Anvarqori was able to walk a little and was talking after being unconscious for several days.

No one seems to have any definitive word on who might have carried out the attack and what the motives were, though guesses range from the IMU or HuT–against whom Anvarqori has apparently been a star witness in goverment trials and opposed very publicy in his sermons–to “business interests” very vaguely described by some sources.

Complicating all this is the fact that this is actually the second stabbing of a prominent Muslim figure in Tashkent in the past month. According to Ferghana.ru the deputy director of Tashkent’s Kukel’dash madrasa was stabbed to death just outside his home in the Sergeili-6 massiv on July 16. Like Anvarqori, he was stabbed multiple times and possibly by more than one attacker. Abrorov died at the scene. Perhaps significantly, he had a fairly hefty sum of money (over $2,000 in several currencies) on his person according to Ferghana.ru that was not taken by the attackers.

If you see other stories on these events or new developments, please post in the comments and I’ll try to update the story as more information becomes available.

Update: Ferghana.ru is reporting (in the Russian feed) today that an official message from the Muftiate of Uzbekistan was given at Friday prayers in all of Tashkent’s official mosques. The message gave an update on Anvarqori’s condition (improved) and warned against the “spreading of uneccesary rumors” and unfounded theories in response to the attack. “The speakers [проповедники] warned the mosque attendees that the expression of baseless conjecture and rumors was a serious sin, and that faithful Muslims must refrain from this.”

The message from the country’s official religious administration also said flatly that any of the theories being advanced that the attack was connected to Avarqori’s religious activities were “far from the truth” and it was suffuciently established that the attack had entirely different motivations. The message, however, gave no hint about what these motivations supposedly were and what the results of the prelimary investigation have been.

Ferghana.ru doesn’t report any mention in the official message of the murder of Abrorov under similar circumstances only two weeks before. This article and several others, though, do confirm that the attack on Anvarqori has caused a major stir in the Islamic community of the country and has provoked up a wide variety theories attempting to make sense of the attack.

(Top photo courtesy Upyernoz)


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This post was written by...

– author of 54 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Noah Tucker is managing editor at Registan.net and an associate at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs Central Asia Program. Noah is a researcher and consultant for NGO, academic and government clients on Central Asian society and culture. He has worked on Central Asian issues since 2002--specializing in religion, national identity, ethnic conflict and social media--and received an MA from Harvard in Russian, E. European and Central Asian Studies in 2008. He has spent four and half years in the region, primarily in Uzbekistan, and returned most recently for fieldwork in Southern Kyrgyzstan in the summers of 2011 and 2012.

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{ 3 comments }

Dafydd August 7, 2009 at 3:15 am

http://www.rferl.org/content/Motives_Behind_Attack_On_Uzbek_Imam_Remain_Unclear/1792475.html

Seems no one really knows why (apart from the obvious ‘they wanted to kill him’)

RFR/RL = RFE/RL August 7, 2009 at 5:40 am
Noah Tucker August 7, 2009 at 7:45 am

Thanks for the correction (that has a story behind it that’s kind of funny). The Central Asia online article is a nice roundup of some of the other stories, though there are some interesting inconsistencies between that article and some of the others.

Watching this story is a really good reminder that whatever happens, there are always a number of different versions to the story.

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