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Kyrgyzstan restricts religious freedom; Church not affected

Catholic World News - February 02, 2010

Less than five years after Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Tulip Revolution’ raised hopes that the central Asian nation would embrace greater democratic reforms, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has signed a law restricting the religious freedom of communities with fewer than 200 members. The law bans the participation of children in these communities and forbids members to distribute religious literature.

The new law, which has been condemned by local Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Hare Krishnas, and Baha’i community members, was passed with the support of the Muslim community and the Russian Orthodox Church.

75% of residents of Muslims, while 20% are Russian Orthodox. Only 1,000 of Kyrgyzstan’s residents are Catholics; Bishop Nikolaus Messmer, SJ, Apostolic Administrator of Kyrgyzstan, says that the restrictions “do not affect the small Catholic Church in the country, which continues her path, in pastoral care of the faithful, in social work, and in humanitarian assistance.

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