Government Blocks Import Of Large Bible Shipment
"To be honest, it is an absolutely incomprehensible decision, because there is no restriction on the import of religious literature into the country,"
05/05/2008 Tajikistan (UCAN)- Tajikistan 's Ministry of Culture has prevented 100,000 Tajik-language bibles ordered by the local Baptist community from entering the country.
According to Asia Plus, a weekly paper published in Dushanbe , Religious Affairs department head Idibek Zieev said the consignment of bibles is too large for the Baptist community, which numbers only about 1,000.
No law bans the import of religious literature in the Central Asian country, according to a lawyer UCA News spoke with on April 28.
"To be honest, it is an absolutely incomprehensible decision, because there is no restriction on the import of religious literature into the country," said the lawyer, who preferred to remain anonymous. "I really don't know how the Bible does not conform to the laws of the Republic of Tajikistan ."
The news, however, did reinforce concerns among the small Catholic community, which numbers about 250 and also has had problems importing religious literature.
"I understand our government is trying to prevent the penetration of radical religious movements into the country, but the work of communities that spread peace, love and tolerance shouldn't suffer from it," the Argentine missioner told UCA News. "What is wrong with bringing a large number of Bibles into Tajikistan ? Or has it become forbidden for Tajiks to read this holy book?"
According to Father Avila, the local Catholic Church has long struggled to bring good, modern Russian-language religious literature into the country for catechism and to help Catholic's faith life in general.
Nonetheless, Father Ayala insisted his parish needs prayer books, catechetical material, bibles, Vatican documents and other religious literature.
"To be honest, our catechists don't have normal materials for teaching children," he said.
Larisa Kviatkovskaya, a St. Joseph catechist, told UCA News she has "virtually nothing to teach the children with, except the Bible and general catechism books." She said she can only dream about "specific catechetical literature aimed at children 13-16 years old" that she would like to use.