Uzbekistan’s authoritarian regime continues to restrict religious freedom through a Religion Law that requires all religious groups to register to engage in religious activity.
Although all Christians experience some pressure, officially registered churches, such as the Russian Orthodox Church, experience less scrutiny from the government as they don’t tend to engage with the Uzbek population and so are seen as less of a threat. Non-traditional churches, however – especially those who have been unable to obtain registration – are particularly prone to police raids, threats, arrests and fines. Baptist, Evangelical and Pentecostal groups are most at risk and prone to being viewed as “extremists” by the government, which suspects them of being spies trying to destroy the government.
Christians are a tiny minority in this predominantly Muslim culture, and indigenous believers who come from Muslim backgrounds face severe pressure for their faith from their families, local communities and the authorities.
“After my conversion to Christianity, my brother wanted to have nothing to do with me… he became very angry as soon as he saw me and said: ‘Go away, what are you doing here? I don’t want anything to do with you!’ For 20 years we didn’t have contact with each other.”
Aziz (name changed) is a believer from a Muslim background, who regained a relationship with his brother after 20 years of ostracism.
What does Open Doors do to help?
Open Doors strengthens persecuted Christians in Central Asia by providing Bibles and Christian literature, biblical and vocational training, medical and social care, socio-economic development projects, and children’s, youth and women’s ministries.