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555 Challenge Week #44 Tajikistan

November 18, 2013 by Open Doors in ,

Tajikistan *Representative photo used to protect identity. Open Doors estimates the number of Christians at slightly more than 1% of the population. Officially, there is freedom of religion, but on a local level, people who become Christians face threats, beatings, arson attacks and other forms of persecution from mullahs, local authorities, neighbors and relatives. Tajik identity is associated with being Muslim. Consequently, changing religion brings great shame on the family. The indigenous Tajik church is a young church; half of the population of Tajikistan is under 18 years of age. The official import of Scriptures and Christian literature is strictly restricted. In July 2012, another law came into force prohibiting Tajik citizens from going abroad in order to receive religious education, preach and teach religious doctrines or to establish ties with foreign religious organizations. Though this law is aimed at every religion, including minority Muslim groups, Christians are greatly affected by it. There is no domestic Bible school or religious training center in the country. Any learning course on local or church level must be reported to the local authorities. Another restriction typical for Central Asian countries is the requirement to obtain permission for printing or importing any religious materials. The responsible authority is the Committee for Religious Affairs, which in most cases does not give permission or relies on alleged procedural flaws. The government also tightly controls the importation and distribution of religious literature. Religious organizations were required to submit copies of all literature to the Ministry of Culture for approval one month prior to delivery. Under the Law on Freedom of Conscience, religious associations may import an unspecified “proper number” of religious materials. In the past, officials have not permitted large shipments of books by Christian organizations. Violence is a means the government rarely relies on, but every now and then, there are raids against churches, Christians are physically harmed or even have to leave their villages. This is the case for Muslim Background Believers (MBB’s) especially. In the meantime, the situation for the Christian minority in Tajikistan is unlikely to improve. The regime puts heavy pressure on all “deviating” groups. Pray Share Give

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