Uzbekistan – Christian literature banned

In Karakalpakstan, state controls on religious activity are among the tightest in Uzbekistan which, despite officially being a secular state, is one of the worst countries for religious freedom in Central Asia. In May 2009, the senior religious affairs official for Karakalpakstan announced they were banning the Bible, the film “The Passion of the Christ” and other religious literature, including a hymn book, a Bible encyclopedia, a Bible dictionary and a children’s Bible, for “import, distribution or use in teaching.” The authorities in Karakalpakstan routinely confiscate religious literature that they find when raiding the homes of local Christians. For example, a Bible was confiscated when police ransacked the home of Polat Smetullaev without a warrant. Government officials insisted the raid had been justified as Smetullaev’s mother is known to host a Bible study for Christian women twice a week. Officials warned that if she carried on her Christian teaching without the approval of a registered, centralized religious organisation, she could face administrative punishment or even criminal prosecution. In April 2009, Valeri Adamia was found guilty of “illegal production, import, storage or distribution of religious literature” after his home was raided and a number of Bibles and other Christian literature were confiscated. Once seized, the literature is held for “expert analysis”, on which the government officials make an assessment of what should be banned in the region. It is unclear what further action the authorities will undertake in the wake of the recent bans on specific works. • Pray that the Lord will touch the hearts of government officials in Karakalpakstan, that they will see the importance of religious freedom. • Pray for Christians in Uzbekistan, that they will remain strong in their faith and find courage to continue to meet together to share God’s Word.
• Pray that those whose Bibles and other Christian resources have been taken will be reminded by the Holy Spirit of all that they have read and learned previously. (John 14:26)

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