A long series of incidents involving Muslim intolerance culminates in the Murder of Christian convert
The late December murder of a Protestant in a village in eastern Kyrgyzstan has highlighted the difficulties for ethnic Kyrgyz of Muslim backgrounds in rural areas who convert to Christianity, the widespread social exclusion that allows attacks to go unpunished and the difficulties finding somewhere to bury Christians who die in areas without non-Muslim graveyards.
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On 3 January 2006, Saktinbai Usmanov’s neighbours discovered his body. A number of knife-wounds were found on his body, and his head had been smashed in.
As soon as news spread of Usmanov’s death, a large crowd of villagers blocked off the road to make it impossible to bury his body in the village cemetery. The villagers explained that a non-Muslim could not be buried in a Muslim cemetery. It was only several days later that the Zhety-Oguz district authorities allocated a patch of land for Usmanov’s burial, outside the area occupied by the Zhety-Oguz cemetery.
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There had been previous attacks on Saktinbai Usmanov. Some four years ago, some masked intruders burst into his home, held a knife to his throat and threatened to kill him if he did not return to the “faith of his ancestors”. There were also what his son called “loutish escapades”, including an occasion when some villagers on a tractor pulled down the fence around Saktinbai Usmanov’s house.
Deliberate ostracism also took place, because of Saktinbai Usmanov’s faith. “The village mullah, Nurlan Asangojaev, told the villagers that my father, as one who had rejected his faith, could not attend weddings or funerals, and from then on my father was stopped from attending these events. The Kyrgyz traditionally celebrate all the important events in life together. Therefore the fact that my father was not allowed to attend community events was a painful ordeal for him,” his son told Forum 18.
Mullah Asangojaev, after Saktinbai Usmanov’s death, also started to spread rumours that he had actually been murdered by Protestants because he was apparently intending to return to Islam.
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The issue of hostility to Muslims who convert to Christianity is a widespread problem in all the Central Asian republics.
Kyrgyzstan: Intolerance against Christians highlighted by murder
Igor Rotar, F18News, February 17, 2006
Official campaign against Christian proselytism may be launched due to Muslim anger at conversions from Islam to Christianity
In its survey analysis of religious freedom in Kyrgyzstan, Forum 18 News Service notes that both registered and unregistered religious communities appear to function freely, despite a 1996 presidential decree requiring religious communities to register. A dispute in 2003 about headscarves worn by Muslim schoolgirls seems to be over, however the closure of six mosques has not been overturned and the official who ordered the closure has not been punished. A Pentecostal Church which faced a massive tax bill and obstruction in registering affiliated congregations hopes that, due to international concern attributed to Forum 18’s reporting, a solution will be found. However, due to Muslim anger at conversions from Islam to Christianity, Forum 18 has been told by some that an official campaign against Christian proselytism may soon be launched.
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The question of proselytism is particularly acute in southern Kyrgyzstan. Around 30 per cent of the local population are ethnic Uzbeks, who are generally much more devout than the Kyrgyz. “Protestant missionaries are actively working in southern Kyrgyzstan, which arouses great displeasure among the local population,” Abdumalik Sharipov, a member of the Jalal-Abad human rights organisation Justice, told Forum 18 on 5 December.
Kyrgyzstan: Religious freedom survey, January 2004
Igor Rotar, F18News, January 7, 2004
Young girl forced to work in a sewing workshop after being tortured and beaten unconscious by her parents because she left Islam, converted to Christianity
A young Kyrgyz girl is forced to work in a sewing workshop after being tortured by her parents in Kyrgyzstan because she converted to Christianity, well-informed investigators said Tuesday, December 18.
The troubles began when the girl “accepted Jesus [Christ]” as her Lord and Savior “during a church meeting” despite opposition towards Christians in this heavily Islamic nation, explained aid and advocacy group Open Doors.
“When her parents found out about her decision, they were very upset and took her home to their village” where she was soon mistreated, the group told BosNewsLife in a statement. “They wanted her to recant and renounce her faith in Christ, so they began to beat her systematically till she lost consciousness.”
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In a surprise move, President Almazbek Atambayev reportedly signed new censorship amendments to Kyrgyzstan’s Religion Law on December 7.
Right group Forum 18 has warned that new legislation will effectively “increase state control over religious literature and other materials”, potentially impacting the printing and distribution of Bibles and other Christian publications.
The State Commission for Religious Affairs (SCRA) has denied suggestions that the law violates religious rights in the Central Asian country.
Open Doors said it had urged its supporters to pray for girl Almas and other “brave believers in Kyrgyzstan who continue to remain faithful, despite the persecution that they face.”Kyrgyzstan ranks 48 on Open Doors annual World Watch List of 50 nations where it claims Christians suffer most for their faith in Christ.
Kyrgyzstan: Kygyzstan Girl “Burned” For Faith In Christ, December 18, 2012
Bos News Life, December 18, 2012