Gary Fallesen


Unregistered religious activity in Kyrgyzstan is banned under the Religion Law, which was enacted in January 2009. But registering a congregation requires giving names and personal information of members. “In order to protect their congregations, leaders of evangelic churches and other religious minorities have decided that registration is not an option,” the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) reported on Nov. 25, 2009.

Mosques have been registered, but Protestant churches have not obtained legal status. Kyrgyzstan officials have said they will close churches in order to pacify the Muslim majority.

“Christians in some villages face physical violence and eviction from ethnic Muslims,” VOM said.

Kyrgyzstan is listed among the 50 most persecuted countries on the planet on the Open Doors' World Watch List because, in part, of laws on its book restricting religious freedoms with conditions for registration.

Khan Tengri, located in the Tian Shan range on the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan border, is the third tallest mountain in Kyrgyzstan at 22,999 feet (7010 meters). Kyrgyzstan is entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tian Shan. Ninety-four percent of the country is 1,000 meters above sea level, with an average elevation of 2,750 meters.

Kyrgyzstan was part of our Mission: Vision 2009, which states:

The rural and nomadic cattle breeder Kyrgyz live in one of the highest plateaus of the world, where 80 percent of the Tian Shan range is found. Few Kyrgyz have heard of Christ, according to Operation World. They are devout Muslims. The Joshua Project reports: “Soviets were never able to change the Kyrgyz beliefs, even though they tried a number of methods, including changing the alphabet, outlawing religious activity, and propaganda. In fact, since 1990, over 2,000 new mosques have been built in Kyrgyzstan. Today, most Kyrgyz still consider themselves to be Muslim; however, some Shamanistic practices still exist. (Shamanism is the belief that there is an unseen world of many gods, demons, and ancestral spirits.) The people depend on shamans (priests or priestesses) to cure the sick by magic, communicate with the gods, and control events. Almost all Kyrgyz believers have to go through a breaking of demonic powers over their lives once they become Christians.”

Fast facts

Location: Central Asia, west of China. Leader: President Kurmanbek Bakiev (since Aug. 14, 2005). The government is a republic. Population: Nearly 5.5 million with 75 percent Muslim, 20 percent Russian Orthodox, and 5 percent something else (such as Shamanism). Primary Religion: Islam.

Where in the world?

Kyrgyzstan is situated between China to the east, Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, and Tajikistan to the south. (The World Factbook)

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