There is no freedom of religion in Turkmenistan. The dictatorial government uses a huge network of police, secret services and local imams to closely monitor all religious activities. All religious groups are legally required to register with the authorities, but only those that have at least 50 members over the age of 18 are allowed to do so. All non-registered groups are effectively banned.
Churches are the target of police raids, which may result in those attending being arrested or fined. Fines can be issued for holding illegal gatherings, possessing religious literature and even downloading Christian songs. Printing and importing Christian materials is restricted, so there is a dearth of resources to support local Christians. Even Russian Orthodox churches are monitored.
The population is predominantly Muslim and Christianity is treated with suspicion. Christians from a Muslim background come under pressure both from the state and from their family and community, who may subject them to house arrest, forced marriage and beatings to try to force them to return to Islam.
How does Open Doors support our family in Turkmenistan?
Open Doors strengthens persecuted Christians in Central Asia by providing Bibles and Christian literature, biblical and vocational training, socio-economic development projects, and children’s, youth and women’s ministries.