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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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    • “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also,” said the Lord Jesus (John 15:20). According to the Pew Centre for Research, Christians face religious oppression in 151 of the world’s countries, whether direct or indirect. On this Barnabas Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, let us remember our brothers and sisters facing tremendous pressures of all kinds because of their faithfulness to Christ and help them with our prayers (Philippians 1:19). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 14 hours ago

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    • Since General al-Sisi became President of Egypt in June, Christians in the country have felt the pressure upon them ease off somewhat. However, a convert from Islam, Bishoy Armia Boulous, previously known as Mohammed Hegazy, remains in prison. He was rearrested on 4 December 2013, charged with defaming Islam after he fi led a public lawsuit to change the religious affiliation listed on his national identification card from Muslim to Christian. Please pray that there will be genuine religious liberty for Christians from a Muslim background as well as those born into Christian families. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Lift up in prayer Christians living in Minya, Egypt whose homes were attacked on 5 August by local Muslims. The violence broke out after Muslims learned that believers in Yaacoub planned to build a new church. Opposition to construction of church buildings is one of the most common reasons behind anti-Christian attacks Scores of Egyptian churches were attacked following the removal of Mohammed Morsi by Muslims in Egypt. Restrictions on the building of churches, a cause of hardship for Christians for many years, were lifted in Egypt’s recent new constitution. Pray that the assailants will be brought to justice and that the plans for the local church building will continue. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Give thanks that ten Egyptian churches destroyed in anti-Christian attacks last year have now been reopened. Around 60 churches across Egypt were attacked by Islamists in the summer of 2013. The assaults were provoked by the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Although the current Egyptian government has promised to rebuild all the damaged churches, most of the Christians have not yet received aid and some are worshipping in ruined buildings. Pray that the rebuilding process will continue and that the Lord will protect His people in Egypt, especially while they are still meeting in damaged buildings. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Oct 2014 00:00

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