Kazakhstan: closure of Jehovah’s Witnesses operation is sign of creeping religious intolerance

Kazakhstan: closure of Jehovah’s Witnesses operation is sign of creeping religious intolerance
Kazakhstan’s decision to suspend operations at the headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a symptom of the country’s growing intolerance towards religious rights, and particularly Christianity, writes Casey Michel in The Diplomat. Jehovah’s Witnesses, who had operated in Kazakhstan for 25 years with 18,000 followers, reacted by expressing concern that . . . Read More

UK Foreign Office hosts global summit on freedom of religion or belief

UK Foreign Office hosts global summit on freedom of religion or belief
“Religious freedom can counter violent extremism” was the key message at a two-day global conference held at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) last week. The conference explored ways to build resilience against extremism and identified opportunities for collaboration. More than 50 expert speakers and over 170 participants from . . . Read More

Azerbaijan registers Bible Society after 20 years, but will it be able to print Bibles?

Azerbaijan registers Bible Society after 20 years, but will it be able to print Bibles?
Rasim Khalilov (left), Chairman of the Bible Committee, and Pastor Elchin Pashaev, one of the founders of the new Bible Society, holding the certificate of registration.United Bible Societies   The recent registration of a Bible Society in Azerbaijan, after a 20-year fight, has brought fresh optimism to the country’s minority . . . Read More

Turkmenistan: No change soon for religious minorities after Consitution amended

Turkmenistan: No change soon for religious minorities after Consitution amended
Turkmenistan has approved a constitutional amendment that will allow its President to rule for as long as he likes. Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has ruled Turkmenistan since 2006. His predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, died while still in office at the age of 66 – he was President for 21 years, during which time . . . Read More

Central Asian Christians feel repercussions of governments’ focus on Islamist threat

Central Asian Christians feel repercussions of governments’ focus on Islamist threat
When the three suicide bombers who killed 44 people at Istanbul’s main airport on 28 June were identified as Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals, it provided another reminder that the threat from the so-called Islamic State reaches far beyond Syria and Iraq. And nowhere is that threat being taken more . . . Read More

Central Asia in the spotlight as Azerbaijan hosts European Games

Central Asia in the spotlight as Azerbaijan hosts European Games
In a somewhat geographically and culturally challenging development, the first ever European Games begins today (13 June) in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is more usually identified as a Central Asian country, but the European Union considers it to be in what it calls its “European Neighbourhood” – what others . . . Read More

Kazakh pastor’s trial begins

The trial against 67-year-old Kazakh pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev has started, eight months after his incarceration for allegedly “harming the health” of a member of his congregation. The pastor has also been accused of inciting hatred, propagating extremism and leading an organisation that harms others. If found guilty, he could face . . . Read More

UK Parliament is told Christianity is ‘most persecuted religion’

UK Parliament is told Christianity is ‘most persecuted religion’
The Bishop Moussa Coptic Church in Minya was destroyted by pro-Morsi supporters in Egypt, many of whom blamed Christians for his overthrow.David Degner, Getty Images   The plight of Christians around the world was discussed in a three-hour debate at the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday. Members of the . . . Read More