Uzbekistan restricts religious literature

By July 5, 2006

Uzbekistan (MNN) — Uzbekistan has introduced new penalties for the “illegal” production, storage, import and distribution of all forms of religious literature. According to Forum 18 News Service, all religious communities already need permission from the government’s Religious Affairs Committee to publish or import material.

Slavic Gospel Association works in Uzbekistan. SGA’s Joel Griffith says, “This is the first we’ve heard of these new restrictions that have come to play, but it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Some of this may be in response to Islamic extremism. President Karimov basically feels like he has to keep his thumb on everything just so things don’t get out of hand with Islamic extremism.”

Many suggest this is just confirming what has already been going on.

Griffith says, “Thus far, to our knowledge, it hasn’t really affected the Baptist churches too heavily. They’re concerned about illegal production and distribution of religious literature such as home produced materials. Well, we don�t’ obviously do anything like that.”

SGA’s work hasn’t been affected. Currently they assist the local church in Uzbekistan and other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States with summer camps, a homeless youth home and many other activities. Funding is needed for these activities. “We need the resources to be able to help the camps with literature. They will have of course Bible distribution for children, sometimes food items and various supplies.”

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