Barnabas Fund, 7 July 2022 (excerpts)
The Tajikistan government will not register any more churches. The senior state religious affairs official, Sulaymon Davlatzoda, informed Christian leaders of the decision at a meeting in the capital Dushanbe in late May.
No reason for this decision was given.
He was widely quoted by Christian leaders as saying, “We will no longer register any new churches. We will keep the figure of registered churches unchanged from now on.”
No church in Tajikistan had lost its registration in recent years, but no churches have been registered either. Meeting for worship in unregistered premises is illegal.
The government also restricts public prayer by Muslims to officially registered mosques and has closed independent, unregistered mosques.
A church leader said, “We are sad … we are not allowed to open new churches and are banned from sharing our faith.”
Even the few churches granted nationwide registration are not in practice allowed to register new congregations. The official also reiterated the government prohibition on children under 18 taking part in public religious activities. Fines have been issued for non-compliance.
Tajikistan’s population is 90% Muslim, with a small Christian minority. Converts from Islam are persecuted by authorities and often lose their jobs when they become Christians.