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Azerbaijan: Communities Threatened

Many religious communities in Azerbaijan and Tajikistan have not yet re-registered with government authorities as required by laws passed in both countries in 2009, according to Forum 18 News.

Religious communities that fail to register by January 1, 2010, will be considered illegal. As of Dec. 16, only about 100 of the 534 religious communities previously registered in Azerbaijan had re-registered. “Amendments to the Religion Law will require communities to provide an increased range of information when applying for registration and to obtain approval to build or rebuild worship places,” Forum 18 reported. “Additional amendments include a ban on the sale of religious literature in unapproved locations and on religious activity outside registered addresses.”

In Tajikistan, fewer than half of the religious communities have re-registered. “The highly restrictive Religion Law imposes state censorship on all religious literature, bans state officials from being among the founders of a religious community, requires state approval to invite foreigners for religious visits or to travel abroad for religious events, and restricts children’s religious activity and education,” Forum 18 added.

The Voice of the Martyrs stands with believers in Tajikistan and Azerbaijan who remain faithful despite government pressure to stop their worship. VOM encourages you to pray that authorities in Azerbaijan and Tajikistan will respect freedom of religion. Pray that Christians in former Soviet republics will echo Peter’s sentiment and determine to obey God rather than man.

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