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Fines and jail over movies menace believers in Uzbekistan

By October 27, 2010

Uzbekistan
(Forum18/MNN) — Christians in Uzbekistan are being fined for having the "JESUS" film, along with several other American Christian movies, in their possession. 

Forum
18 News Service reports that a court in Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent found Murat
Jalalov, a Christian, guilty of owning one copy of a Christian film. He avoided a 15-day jail term in the September
30th trial but faces a fine after the secret police raided his
home.

Other
believers have been fined for offering religious literature on the street. Five members of a Samarkand Baptist
congregation will also have to pay large fines after losing their appeal on
the decision October 14.

Fines
for unregistered religious worship are frequent. Uzbekistan bans religious
activity that does not have state permission, despite international human
rights commitments.

On September 29, authorities raided Jalalov's home, knowing he is an active evangelical pastor. They confiscated his passport and 75 DVDs and CDs, many of which were Christian in content.  

Forum 18 notes that the Religious Affairs Committee said the "JESUS" film could be used for proselytizing, and it was contraband. Officials say Jalalov violated Article 216-2 of the Criminal Code which bans missionary activity.

A judge also found him guilty of violating Article 184-2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses ("illegal storage, production, import, distribution of religious materials") and imposed a fine of 3,164,050 Soms, which is roughly 1,400 Euros, or $1,930.00 USD. The average monthly salary is 37,680 Soms, roughly 20 Euros,or $25.00 USD.

Three Baptists who offered Christian literature to passers-by on the street in Mubarek, in the central Kashkadarya Region, on August 7 have been punished with heavy fines. Three other Christians were also heavily fined after officials found them guilty of violating Article 184-2 of the Code of Administrative Offences ("illegal storage, production, import, distribution of religious materials") for running a Christian street library.

Pray for continued strength for Christians facing charges and harassment from authorities.

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