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Tajikistan

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A church in Tajikistan was able to buy and register this property with help from Barnabas

Christian worship and witness are tightly controlled by the government of Tajikistan. It suppresses and punishes churches and other organisations that do anything independently of state control.

Madamin Chariyev, a Christian from the capital Dushanbe, was fined in September 2013 for “illegally importing unlicensed religious literature”. He and two other members of his church had received copies of a Christian magazine from Belarus. Although these were devotional materials intended only for the Christians’ personal use, the authorities insisted that they should have been checked and licensed by the state. Such “expert analysis” of Christian books and magazines is unaffordable for small churches.

The censorship of all religious literature is just one part of the repressive official regulation of the churches in Tajikistan. In the past four years the government has expanded the laws that limit religious freedom. In effect it claims the right to approve, restrict or prevent any kind of Christian worship, ministry or mission.

The 2009 Religion Law forced all churches to re-register with the state and established demanding and intrusive registration requirements. Unregistered Christian activity was criminalised. Evangelism and private Christian education (except by parents) were also prohibited, and official permission must be given to provide Christian instruction. There are no licensed Christian schools in the whole country, and unregistered schools are closed down. Administrative and penal amendments in 2011 and 2012 introduced new penalties, including large fines and prison terms, for religion-related offences. A 2011 law effectively bans young people under 18 from participating in Christian worship. Religious communities are liable to be punished for engaging in activities not specifically mentioned in their statutes.

Minority communities that are believed to be influenced from abroad, such as Protestant Christians, are particularly liable to repression under these draconian regulations. Christians make up only about 1% of the population of Tajikistan and are therefore especially vulnerable. However, the stifling state controls also apply to the Muslim majority. Families and communities of Tajik Christians who have converted from Islam may put pressure on them to reconvert.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • As the Syrian civil war rages on, the militant Islamist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) now controls extensive territory in eastern Syria. The group is acutely hostile to Christians, who are suffering grievous oppression under its rule. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has named Syria as one of the world’s worst violators for the first time, saying that the crisis “has devolved largely into a sectarian conflict” and “represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom”, with abuses being committed by all sides. Before the war, it was easier to be a Christian in Syria than almost anywhere else in the Arab world. Pray that the US and other Western governments will continue to work for a resolution of the conflict and for religious freedom for all Syria’s citizens. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 8 hours ago

    • Give thanks that members of a Pakistani Christian family who have been trapped in bonded labour for years have been rescued by Barnabas partners. The owner of the brick kiln where they worked had kept them enslaved by withholding their wages and forcing them to take out a loan from him. When they tried to leave, he made them return, and he beat, tortured and threatened to kill them. The father of the family died in 2013 as a result of illness and weakness. But earlier this year, his widow sought help from our partners, and they obtained a court order for the recovery of the family. Pray for the three members who have already been rescued as they recuperate at a safe house. Pray too for the efforts to secure the freedom of six others still held by the owner. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Aug 2014 00:00

    • About 1,500 Christians staged a protest in Lahore, Pakistan in June 2014 over the grabbing of church-owned property by the government of Punjab. Over ten large properties, including a church, schools, hospitals and graveyards, have been taken. Christian leaders met with the Lahore District Coordination Officer on 15 June to demand the return of the latest school to be seized, but when they failed to get a positive response, Christian protestors took to the streets. Pray that the provincial government will respect the property rights of the churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Praise God that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has instructed the government to take specific steps to protect religious minorities from violence and intolerance. The ruling was issued partly in response to the deadly attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar in September 2013, which claimed over 100 lives. The court ordered the formation of a National Council for Minority Rights, a special police force to protect places of worship, and a taskforce to develop strategies to counter intolerance, along with further corrective measures. Campaigners for the rights of Christians in Pakistan welcomed the moves but expressed reservations about whether they would be implemented. Pray that the measures will achieve a tangible improvement in the condition of the country’s Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

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