Officials in Uzbekistan harass Christians

Officials in Uzbekistan harass Christians

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — Authorities in Uzbekistan’s southwestern Navoi Region keep raiding and punishing local Baptists “to stop them meeting for worship and peaceful religious activity,” the Baptist Council of Churches told Forum 18 news service in March.

Uzbek Baptists also said authorities compel the relatives of ethnic Christians to try to stop family members from meeting co-believers. Baptists who asked to be anonymous for fear of state reprisals stated that police “watch us, follow us and threaten us with court cases and fines to stop us attending church.”

In one case, an 8-year-old child was taken from school without his parents’ permission to face hostile questioning by officials. In Tashkent a Baptist woman was put on trial and fined without her knowledge and a memory chip with family photos was destroyed. She was illegally denied the possibility to appeal.

Bibles have been confiscated by authorities during raids, and it is unclear whether people will now be able to keep and read Bibles at home.

Authorities insist that all other religious literature can only be kept and read within a building of a state-registered religious community, and sources say officials are continuing to jail Muslims who possess religious literature. (F18)