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Uzbekistan

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A minaret in Uzbekistan, which is 93% Muslim
Nikolaus88 / CC BY-SA 3.0

All Christian activity is illegal for members of unregistered churches in Uzbekistan, and the official reprisals inflicted on them can be shattering. Sardorbek Nurmetov, who attends an unregistered church, was brutally beaten following his arrest in June 2013. A police officer beat him about the head and chest and kicked his legs. Christian literature and other materials were seized.

Officially a secular state, Uzbekistan has long been recognised as one of the most repressive regimes in Central Asia with respect to religious freedom, with the number of incidents against Christians increasing in recent years and extremely harsh religion laws severely limiting Christian activities. Churches are required to register with the authorities, but the stringent requirements are impossible for some to meet, and others are turned down for petty reasons such as minor grammatical errors or problems in certifying addresses. Children are discouraged from practising the Christian faith, and in 2013 the government raided a Christian children’s camp.

Christians from unregistered churches are vulnerable to police raids on their meetings and homes as well as to harassment and surveillance. During raids, threats and physical violence are common; arrest and detention can follow. Attending services, teaching the Bible to adults or children and training Christian leaders can result in fines of up to 200 to 300 times the monthly minimum wage for repeated violations. Even registered churches may be targeted. All evangelism is illegal, and Christians accused of illegally storing, importing or distributing Christian literature are subject to heavy fines. In the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, where persecution is especially severe, it is even illegal to own a Bible. Members of churches that are considered “non-traditional” may be criticised in the media or suffer discrimination.

Uzbekistan has a strong Islamic heritage, as 80% of its population are Uzbek, a traditionally Sunni Muslim Turkic tribe, and 93% are nominally Muslim. Christianity in the area was almost entirely eradicated in 1300 AD under the Turkic military leader Tamerlane, who was renowned for his hatred of Christians and who is still celebrated as a hero in Uzbekistan. This legacy is very noticeable in the way Christian converts from Islam are often ostracised from their families and communities or threatened and beaten to force them to return to Islam. Churches with many Muslim-background believers frequently face harassment from the authorities as well as from local communities.

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

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    • Two Christian families in Uzbekistan who meet in a private home to read the Bible and pray together have been repeatedly fined and had property confiscated. Alisher Abdullayev and Veniamin Nemirov were originally fined in 2012 for unregistered religious activity and teaching religion “illegally”. They refused on principle to pay, claiming that they had not violated any laws. But earlier this year bailiffs went to their homes and confiscated a car, a mobile phone and household items. The men and their wives were then fined again, ten times the minimum monthly wage. Officers have also raided one of their meetings, filming and harassing those present and seizing religious literature. Pray that the authorities will stop targeting the families and that they will be left alone to study and pray in peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

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