TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — Police in Uzbekistan raided two Baptist congregations during their Easter services and arrested three church members.
According to Forum 18 News Service, a Council of Churches Baptist congregation in Karshi was raided April 9. Eyewitnesses said police officers used items such as electric prods against church members and brutally beat some believers.
Three church members were arrested and 10 were taken to the police station, local residents told Forum 18.
The next day, a Council of Churches Baptist congregation in Denov was raided by police. Claiming the meeting was illegal, police forcibly dispersed the crowd, church members said.
Both congregations had sought unsuccessfully to rent local venues for Easter presentations featuring performances of visiting German Baptist musicians.
Also, on Feb. 20, Nikolai Smirnov, a Baptist from Kazakhstan, was detained at a border crossing in Uzbekistan after border guards found 237 Christian books and Bibles and other items in his car. The Committee for Religious Affairs in Tashkent analyzed the books and materials and found nothing illegal. However, officials refused to return the items to Smirnov. Instead, Smirnov may be fined for “illegal” importation of religious media, reports Forum 18.
Uzbekistan is No. 21 on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.
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