Tajikistan: three-year sentence for pastor for ‘singing extremist songs’

Bahrom Kholmatov
A Protestant church leader in Tajikistan has been handed a three-year sentence for “singing extremist songs in church and so inciting religious hatred,” reports regional news agency Forum 18. The agency reports that the Tajik authorities have also threatened family, friends and other church members if they reveal any details . . . Read More

US Commission urges Trump administration to prioritise international religious freedom

US Commission urges Trump administration to prioritise international religious freedom
An influential US government commission that monitors religious freedom around the world is urging President Donald Trump and his new administration to take concrete steps to make advocacy of universal religious rights a priority in American foreign policy. “Our foreign policy should not simply be about US self-interest – you know, . . . 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

US religious-freedom report urges government to add 7 countries to worst-offenders list

US religious-freedom report urges government to add 7 countries to worst-offenders list
What is happening? The primary US government agency on global religious freedom issued its annual report 2 May. It says “religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault” during the past year, and says America should add seven countries to its list of worst offenders: Central African Republic . . . 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

2014: A year of particular concern

2014: A year of particular concern
If ever there were a year that made plain the importance of religious freedom, 2014 was it, according to the just-released annual report by an American government advisory group. “By any measure, the horrors of the past year speak volumes about how and why religious freedom and the protection of the . . . Read More

Freedom of religion an issue ‘whose time has come’

Freedom of religion an issue ‘whose time has come’
Freedom of religion and belief is an issue “whose time has come”, the vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said yesterday. During the presentation of two reports on religious freedom at the European Parliament in Brussels on Feb. 12, commission Vice Chairwoman Katrina Lantos Swett said . . . Read More