UZBEKISTAN: Large fine for film about Jesus

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

By Joseph C. DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (Worthy News)-- Uzbekistan police confiscated a Christian's private property and then imposed a massive fine on him for owning a film about Jesus.

Five police officers led by Zufar Rashidov of the Sergeli District Criminal Investigation and Anti-terrorism Department raided the home of Murat Jalalov and his family on the pretense of conducting an identity check; after taking Murat's passport, the officers searched his home.

After the raid, police confiscated 75 DVDs/CDs, including one disc about the life of Jesus produced by Campus Crusade for Christ, as well as other films along with family photos.

The confiscated discs were sent for "analysis" to the state Religious Affairs Committee, which determined that the film about Jesus "could be used among local ethnicities for missionary purposes" and banned it under Article 216-2 of the Criminal Code. Contray to international human rights commitments, Article 216-2 prohibits "attracting believers of one faith to another and other missionary activity" and carries a maximum of three years imprisonment.

All the confiscated discs were ordered destroyed.

In addition, Judge H. Tulyaganov of Sergeli District Criminal Court also found Jalalov guilty of violating Article 184-2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, specifically the "illegal storage, production, import, distribution of religious materials". In lieu of a prison sentence, the judge fined Jalalov nearly $2,000 (US) dollars.

After Jalalov protested that he couldn't pay the fine, he was informed by police that his passport would not be returned until he did.