Between Religious Freedom and Harassment: Christian Converts in Central Asia, Central Asia

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In Kyrgyzstan, more than 77 percent or 850 of the 1110 registered missions were Christian, mostly Protestant. Reportedly, thousands of Kyrgyz and Kazakhs have converted from traditionally Muslim families, and now attend Protestant churches. According to the Christianity Today website, the number of ethnic Kazakh protestants increased from fewer than 10 in 1991 to more than 6,000 in 2000. As a result of the vigorous growth of well-off and modernized Christian churches from the United States, South Korea and other countries, the thousands of native converts diversify religious and cultural life in Central Asia. At the same time, in some areas, a rapid process of re-Islamization of natives competes with the advances of Protestantism, which leads to increasing tensions between the newly converted and the Muslim community. Religious strife resulting from policies of increasing political freedoms are indicators of the deleterious effects of liberalization policies in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.


Copyright © 2006 Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, The Johns Hopkins University, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. All rights reserved.