Nearly 85% of Uzbeks are Muslims. Perhaps because of years of years under Soviet Communism which discouraged religion, here Islam is separate from and subservient to the Uzbekistan state. None-the-less the mosques and Imams are supported by the government, similar to the Lutheran Church in Scandinavia. Though we see innumerable mosques with their minarets, we don’t hear the call to prayer 5 times a day as in most Islamic cultures. Some people come to their local mosques for prayers, but most continue with their daily activities. Women don’t wear veils and we see a headscarf only very rarely. In this country where the press is controlled, so are the Imams. They area allowed to preach the cultural/religious messages of the Koran such as respect for elders but any Imam who preaches political or anti-government messages is immediately silenced (and we don’t know how.)
Twelve years of school is compulsory for boys and girls and is provided free. The first 9 years are secular and curriculum is similar for all students. The last three years students can choose medical, college preparatory, trade or religious school. For those interested in studying religion, there are 10 madrasas - 8 for boys and 2 for girls. Here they will learn the Koran, Arabic and calligraphy. The successful boy students can become Imams, but not the girls.