Transforming The 10/40 Window Nations Through The Power of Prayer

Uzbekistan, Central Asia

Population: 27,780,059
Political Leader: President Islom Karimov
Religions: Islam 83.5%, Non-Religious 14.5%, Christianity 1.3%. Other 0.7%
Persecution Ranking: 11th
Number of Terrorist Groups: 3
Acts of Terrorism: 14; Casualties: 37
Percent of Corruption: 79%
% of People in Poverty: 33%

Uzbekistan, officially known as the Republic of Uzbekistan, is dry, double-landlocked country in Central Asia, formerly part of the Soviet Union. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south. Uzbekistan is approximately the size of Morocco and has an area of 172,700 square miles. Ten percent of Uzbekistan’s territory is intensely cultivated irrigated river valleys.

There remained a clear potential for Islamic extremism and acts of international terrorism in Uzbekistan. Supporters of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan , the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement were active in the region in 2006. A 2004 suicide bombing at the U.S. embassy in Tashkent was clamed by the Islamic Jihad Group, now known as the IJU. The government of Uzbekistan did not provide safe haven for terrorists and terrorist organizations. However, the country’s poor economic climate and repressive government policies created conditions in which large portions of the population were increasingly susceptible to extremist ideologies.

Uzbekistan is predominantly Muslim (83.5%), with Christians only making up 1.28% of its population. The government has been keen to stamp out Islamic extremism, but Uzbek Christians are also treated harshly.

Challenges for Christians:
Uzbekistan is ranked No. 11 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians based on Open Doors 2007 “World Watch List.” On November 14, 2006, the Secretary of State designated Uzbekistan as a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. Uzbekistan has one of the worst records in the world for religious freedom. The government particularly targets dynamic and evangelistic churches, making it impossible for them to officially register. Telling people about God could earn Christians three years in prison and for opening an unregistered Christian group, Christians would get five years. Recently, a suspended jail sentence was given to Sharofat Allamova after police confiscated Christian literature from her, a Protestant Pastor Khyn-Mun Kim was fined about a year’s salary for “illegal” religious activity and a fine being imposed on his colleague, Me Vol Kim. Twelve Protestants recently also faced charges after they “illegally” met for worship and police confiscated Christian literature from them.

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for the government of Uzbekistan to be steadfast in not providing a haven for terrorists and terrorist organizations.
  • Pray for supporters to stop backing terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement.
  • Uzbekistan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and since then Islom Karimov has been in sole charge because he has made it against the law for anyone to oppose him in government. Pray for his salvation.
  • Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent is the Islamic capital of Central Asia, and for a lot of people Islam is part of their cultural identity. Pray that people would be released from any cultural pressure to be Islamic in any way and have the freedom to explore Christianity.
  • Most Christians in Uzbekistan are Koreans and Russians. Pray that Christians would be able to cross the cultural divide between Uzbeks, Koreans and Russians and break down any mistrust or suspicion.
  • Pray that God would give Uzbek Christians strength and perseverance in the face of persecution.
  • Pray for God to bring good from the persecution, that eyes may be opened, hearts softened and the Christian Believers to grow in prayer and faith.
  • Pray for the Gospel message to be spread through the courts and media and into the prisons, and may the Holy Spirit use it all for the glory of God.

Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission, Open Doors, Forum 18 News Service, The World Factbook

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