Section I. Religious Demography
The U.S. government estimates the total population at 30.3 million (midyear 2019 estimate). According to U.S. government estimates, 88 percent of the population is Muslim, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates 93-94 percent of the population is Muslim. Most Muslims are Sunni of the Hanafi school. The government states approximately 1 percent of the population is Shia of the Jaafari school, concentrated in the provinces of Bukhara and Samarkand. Approximately 3.5 percent of the population is Russian Orthodox, according to reports, and statistics suggest this number continues to decline with ethnic Russian and other Orthodox emigration. The government states the remaining 3 percent includes small communities of Catholics, ethnic Korean Christians, Baptists, Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists, evangelical Christians, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, Baha’is, members of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, and atheists. According to members of the Jewish community, the population, a mix of Ashkenazi and Sephardic (Bukharian) Jews, numbers fewer than 10,000. Of those, approximately 6,000 Ashkenazi and fewer than 2,000 Bukharian Jews, are concentrated in Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand, and the Fergana Valley. The Jewish population continues to decline because of emigration.
Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom
Activists and human rights groups continued to report social pressure among the majority Muslim population against conversion from Islam. Religious community members said ethnic Uzbeks who converted to Christianity faced harassment and discrimination. Some said social stigma for conversion from Islam resulted in difficulties in carrying out burials and that Muslims in the community forced them to bury individuals in distant cemeteries or allowed burials only with Islamic religious rites.
According to Open Doors USA, a Christian nonprofit that supports persecuted believers, individuals experienced “pressure and occasionally physical violence to renounce their faith and return to Islam.” According to the organization, on February 9, a man killed his wife because she had recently become a Christian. She was attempting to flee the country to seek refuge in Istanbul with Christian friends when her husband confronted her at Tashkent Airport and slit her throat.
Members of religious groups perceived as proselytizing, including evangelical Christian, Baptist, and Pentecostal Christian Churches, stated they continued to face societal scrutiny and discrimination. They said their neighbors sometimes called police to report their activities.