Uzbek official faces death threats after online comment on religion


TASHKENT -- An Uzbek official has been forced to take a leave of absence and accept police protection after her online post on polygamy and the Prophet Muhammad led to numerous death threats, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported Wednesday (March 13).

Nargiza Rakhimova, 35, deputy director of the Uzbek Information and Mass Communications Agency, posted a message that included references to the prophet, his first wife Khadija, and his son-in-law Ali in response to a pro-polygamy, misogynist comment that a reader left on RFE/RL's Uzbek Service Facebook page March 3.

Authorities took precautions after threats and calls for her firing erupted on social media, an anonymous source in the Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service.

Rakhimova March 9 posted a video apology on Azon TV's website. But amid continuing abuse, she shut down all her social media accounts.

The government's Committee for Religious Affairs (KDR) has not specifically commented on Rakhimova, though in a statement the KDR noted that "an insult to citizens' religious feelings is subject to punishment under the law".

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's office has received several hundred demands for her punishment and/or dismissal, according to Fergana News.

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