(Photos courtesy Christian Aid Mission)
Kyrgyzstan (CAM/MNN) ―Kyrgyzstan is the first country in Central Asia to have a democratically-elected head of state. Unlike the rest of Central Asia, persecution of believers comes mainly from family, friends, and community. In rural areas especially, Muslim-background believers face enormous pressure to recant their new faith.
To be a traditional Kyrgyz practically equates with being Muslim. Identifying oneself as a Christian brings all sorts of challenges for new believers who experience misunderstanding, ridicule, and in some cases even abandonment by families who feel they have scorned their very heritage.
Nearly 90% of Kyrgyzstan’s 5.5 million people consider themselves Muslim, according to Operation World. Most adhere to a form of traditional Islam that combines remnants of tribal folk practices with Sunni beliefs.
More militant forms of Islam, however, are perceived to be a threat to the country’s secular government. To combat increased pressures from radical groups, Kyrgyzstan passed a law against extremism in 2005. Additional religious laws approved in 2009 tightened controls on all faiths but had an especially adverse effect on Christianity.
Read more: http://www.mnnonline.org/article/19248