UZBEKISTAN: NO RELIGION WITHOUT PERMISSION
By Elizabeth Kendal
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Fearing police brutality, torture and detention, Guljahon Kuzebayeva, a Protestant who is wanted by police for talking to her family members about her Christian faith, remains in hiding almost a year after police raided her home. On 23 May police delivered an official summons to Kuzebayeva's house, ordering her to present herself to the Karshi Police. Protestants told Forum 18 they believe the police have opened a case against Kuzebayeva under Administrative Code Articles 240 and 241, which ban teaching religious beliefs without training or permission.
Whilst Protestants have long suffered harassment and intimidation in Uzbekistan, the situation has deteriorated since August 2014 when the state enacted the law on Prevention of Violations of the Law. The Prevention Law is aimed at preventing all exercise of religion without state permission. The law empowers state bodies, committees and local district councils (mahallas) to enforce religion laws, and requires them to report those they suspect might be guilty of religious crimes. These crimes include 'teaching' religion without training or permission, or storing or disseminating religious materials without permission. Furthermore, when a Christian is investigated for 'prevention measures', their employer or educational institution and mahalla are usually informed, inviting further persecution.
Forum 18 reports that on 10 February a Tashkent court fined Ilmira Ishanova and her two sons for 'illegally' storing Christian literature and materials in their flat.
|500 cmy (som) note, |
featuring Turko-Mongol Muslim
conqueror Timur (Tamerlane)
who is buried in Samarkand.
Timur decimated Christian
Central Asia and Mesopotamia
through the latter part of the14th C.
Uzbekistan is a secular state, but religion is tightly controlled. Christians are a mere 0.75 percent of Uzbekistan's population -- about half of them are Orthodox and the rest are predominantly Protestant. Whilst nearly 14 percent of Uzbek nationals identify as having 'no religion', some 85 percent are Muslim (predominantly Sunni). Following global trends, Uzbekistan's Muslims are being radicalised and as radicalisation advances, so too does Muslim intolerance of Christians, especially those who witness to Muslims. The Islamic revolutionary group Hizbut Tahrir is active in Uzbekistan. Additionally, hundreds of Uzbeks are fighting with the al-Qaeda affiliate Jaysh al-Fateh in Idlib, Syria. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU, based in Afghanistan) has pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS). Uzbekistan clearly has grounds to be seriously concerned about 'extremism'. Instead of helping, the West's Cold War stance just ensures the authorities will view Protestant Christianity (which they regard as Western) with suspicion and hostility.
[Extra background: 'Why Andijan Changed Everything', by E. Kendal (for WEA RLC) 23 March 2007.]
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:
* give Uzbekistan's Christians, especially pastors and evangelists, great wisdom as they seek to navigate the increasingly hostile and difficult environment; may the Holy Spirit guide them as they strive to grow and witness whist being 'wise as serpents and innocent as doves'. 'Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.' (Jesus, in Matthew 10:16 ESV)
* forge solidarity between Orthodox and Protestant denominations, both locally and internationally, that believers will be a blessing to each other through testing times. 'Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.' (1 John 4:11 ESV)
* raise up workers with the necessary language and technical skills for Gospel radio, satellite and internet ministries for ministry in increasingly repressive Central Asia; may Jehovah-jireh, the Lord our provider, provide all their needs.
* work in mysterious ways to restore openness and bring relief to Uzbekistan's persecuted Protestants, praying for Uzbek President Islam Karimov, his regional ally Vladimir Putin and Uzbekistan's reform-minded Muslims and praying for improvements in human rights and international relations. May the Lord enable a breakthrough in Uzbekistan.
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN WHOLE ARTICLE
NO RELIGION WITHOUT PERMISSION IN UZBEKISTAN
Uzbekistan has enacted a Prevention Law aimed at preventing all practice of religion without state permission. The law empowers state bodies, committees and district councils to enforce religion laws and requires them to report those they suspect might be guilty of religious crimes, such as 'teaching' religion or storing religious materials without permission. Persecution against Protestants has escalated as police raids, administrative detentions and massive fines are issued to believers for simply sharing their faith or possessing Christian materials. Police brutality and torture are endemic. On 8 May Murot Turdiyev (a Protestant) was beaten and then strangled by police until he lost consciousness. Another Protestant, Guljahon Kuzebayeva, is so afraid that she has been in hiding since police raided her home 12 months ago. Please pray for Uzbekistan and its Christians.
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).