WHO IS THE LEADER OF UZBEKISTAN?
The leader of Uzbekistan is President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. He has been in power since 2016.
HOW MANY CHRISTIANS LIVE IN UZBEKISTAN?
There are 349,000 Christians in Uzbekistan. They make up 1.1 per cent of the total population of 32.4 million. Most of the Christians in Uzbekistan are from a Russian background, but there are around 30,000 Uzbek believers, and their numbers are growing.
Over 95 per cent of the population are Muslims.
WHY ARE CHRISTIANS PERSECUTED IN UZBEKISTAN?
No religious activities beyond state-run and state-controlled institutions are allowed.
Christians are viewed as a threat to the government, and Protestants in particular are frequently branded as 'extremists' because they practise their faith outside state-sanctioned structures. They are seen as followers of an alien sect that aims to destroy the current political system. For this reason, the state believes they need to be not only controlled, but if necessary, eradicated.
The general Islamic culture makes life for converts to Christianity particularly difficult.
WHAT IS LIFE LIKE FOR CHRISTIANS IN UZBEKISTAN?
Christians face persecution from the state through the police, secret services and local authorities monitoring religious activities by various means (bugging homes, tapping phones, infiltrating groups etc.) and attending church services. Christians in unregistered churches suffer repeatedly from police raids, threats, arrests and fines.
In just one example of the dozens of Christians who were arrested last year, on 24 May 2018 Nabijon Bolikulov was jailed in Karshi for five days for meeting for worship without state permission. The judge told him, "Do your prayers at home. It is against the law of our state to meet for worship without state registration."
The Islamic culture in Uzbekistan means believers from Muslim backgrounds bear the brunt of the persecution; they experience pressure and occasionally physical violence from their families and communities to force them to return to their former faith.
Despite all this, the number of Uzbek believers is growing. Some of the Uzbek Christians have developed a vision to reach out to the Uzbek people in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan and are active in those areas too. Many of the Uzbek Christians have faced opposition from the moment they left Islam, but persevere in their faith in spite of their hardships.
HOW CAN I HELP CHRISTIANS IN CENTRAL ASIA?
You can give to provide vital support
Open Doors strengthens the persecuted church in Central Asia with Christian literature, training, medical care, relief aid and social-economic development projects.
£26 could provide four children with a Bible in Central Asia.
You can tell others
Sign up for advocacy alerts for updates on how you can be a voice for our persecuted church family.
You can pray
Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, says, “Our prayers can go where we cannot... There are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray.”
A PRAYER FOR UZBEKISTAN
Father God, please make the eyes of the authorities in Uzbekistan blind to the activities of your church. Please protect your people, and give them courage and strength. Where believers from Muslim backgrounds have been rejected by their families, may they find a new family in the church.
CENTRAL ASIA RESOURCES: