Tajikistan drafts Central Asia’s ‘harshest religion law’ .

By April 5, 2006

Tajikistan (MNN)–Tajikistan’s Parliament is mulling over a proposed religion law that has the potential of being one of the harshest in Central Asia.

Among the provisions, proposed state control over who can teach religion within religious communities, and a ban on foreigners who lead them.

Open Doors’Jerry Dykstra says, “It would put clamps on many types of religious groups to register in town even to educate any children under seven years old, and it would prevent Christians from sharing their faith in Jesus to a Muslim.”

More specifically, if adopted, the new law would:

*impose the highest quota in Central Asia and in the entire CIS. (Currently, Uzbekistan imposes the highest quota, at 100 people.)
*Religious education in private homes is outlawed, as is teaching religion to children younger than 7.
*require “persons giving instruction in religious beliefs must have received specialist religious education and operate with the permission of the state agency for religious
affairs.”
*bans foreigners and those without citizenship from leading religious associations.
*restrict the number of mosques
(population: 200 and 2,000= 1 mosque
population: +2,000=an additional mosque for each additional 2,000 people.
population: 30,000= A central mosque
Dushanbe: one central mosque may be established for every 50,000.)

Protestant, Catholic and Russian Orthodox leaders, along with Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses, have all expressed their concerns about many aspects of the draft law.

Tajikistan is also 29th on the Open Doors’ World Watch List. The list is a compilation of countries noted and documented for their persecution of Christians.

Dykstra says with this draft looming, “What we need to pray is that this draft will not go to Parliament in its current form and because of the outpouring of prayer and criticism of the current plan, that it will be watered down and not so harsh as it is now.”

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