What does persecution look like in Tajikistan?
Tajikistan's totalitarian leadership treats any perceived ‘deviation’ from cultural norms with suspicion. No religious activities beyond state-run and controlled institutions are allowed and religious laws that restrict religious freedom are strictly enforced.
Tajikistan has the highest percentage of Muslims in Central Asia. Christians make up only 0.6% of the population, the overwhelming majority of whom are Russian Orthodox. While Russian Orthodox churches are registered and accepted in the country, they tend to keep themselves separate from the local population. Protestants in particular (who are regarded as 'extremists', unlike Orthodox Christians) face significant persecution. Church services are often disrupted and Christians face harassment and arrests for holding private prayer meetings or possessing 'illegal' religious material. Fines are imposed on Christians simply for practicing their faith. Registering non-Orthodox, non-Catholic Christian groups is effectively impossible, making all religious activities carried out by these groups technically illegal.
Indigenous Christians from a Muslim background face huge pressure from family, friends and the local community to return to Islam, believing that a true Tajik can only be Muslim. They will be treated as an outcast, and in the most serious cases they are victims of violent assaults.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
Although government officials target Christian communities all over the country, Christian converts from a Muslim background also come under strong pressure from family, friends and community. Families and communities in rural areas tend to enforce more oppressive measures.
Meet "Pastor Bahrom"
“My church was attacked and the church building was confiscated by the court. Our church is now gathering inside a shipping container.”Pastor Bahrom was jailed for his faith
What has changed this year?
Persecution against Christians has slightly worsened in the past year, with private life and church life being the areas where believers face the highest pressure. Muslim families, friends and villagers exert pressure on converts in particular, while the government imposes many restrictions on church activities.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Tajikistan?
Open Doors strengthens persecuted Christians in Central Asia by providing Bibles and Christian literature, biblical and vocational training, socio-economic development projects, and children's, youth and women's ministries.
How can you pray for Tajikistan?
- Please pray for the Tajik government to recognize the right to freedom of religion and create laws that allow Christians to practice their faith freely
- Pray that church leaders who are under pressure will be equipped to lead, with full faith in God their Protector and Provider
- Pray that believers from Muslim backgrounds will find ways to meet to encourage one another.
Heavenly Father, we pray for change at the heart of the Tajik government, that the authorities would recognize the rights and freedoms of all their citizens. Soften the hearts of the lawmakers to create laws that respect religious freedoms. Protect those churches that bravely gather, despite the threat of arrests and fines. Bless their meetings and encourage each one of our brothers and sisters in Tajikistan. Build Your church with bold, visionary leaders who deepen the faith of Christians and new believers in the region. Comfort those who have suffered because of their faith. Amen.