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Uzbekistan Sends Conflicting Messages to Christians

ICC NOTE: Two Pentecostal Christian men are now facing charges of “violating the law on religious organizations” while another was released.

3/05/2007 Uzbekistan For the full article…(MNN) — Uzbekistan continues to keep Christians on their guard.

Voice of the Martyr’s Canada’s Glenn Penner said, “This is useless harassment and its quite unnecessary in a country which claims to have religious freedom and yet for all intensive purposes is sliding very rapidly in recent months towards restrictions that we use to see in the former Soviet Union.

Protestant activity is illegal in the area where the two men are part of an underground church. Religious harassment is common and worship often is held many kilometers from town to avoidit. “Religious laws in Uzbekistan are rather vague and hard to define. Registration is extremely hard. Congregations are officially required to register but, nonetheless, they are often harassed and registration is often refused or delayed, and so, many churches just finally just go ahead and worship anyhow,” said Penner.

“Registration in Uzbekistan is a way in which the government tries to exercise a degree control over the church,”he added.

On an optimistic note, a visiting Kazakh pastor was released after being arrested for possession of Christian literature. “The Uzbek government tends to send conflicting messages. On one hand they’re arresting some people and on the other hand they release others.