Buddhism in Uzbekistan is the fourth largest religious group by the number of followers in the country after Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It is practised by 0.2 per cent of the population. This is the only place in Central Asia with the functioning Buddhist temple.
Lack of knowledge and information gap are the main causes of religious conflicts, leaders of various organisations said. They tell about difficulties and build up dialogue with each other within the framework of the interreligious council.
Raids on Baptists, refusal to register religious organisations, persecutions and surveillance over representatives of certain faiths – all these facts have been reported in Uzbekistan by human rights activists despite the reforms declared by the authorities. There’s an opinion that persecutions of Protestants become more intensive under the pretext of countering missionary activities.
3,257 religious organisations are registered in Kyrgyzstan, including only one Buddhist. It was hard to find it since Kyrgyzstan has no pagodas. However, there’s an unusual summer house in Gornaya Mayevka near Bishkek, which is called by Buddhists “The place of path”, run by a Buddhist monk.
Our journalistic investigation revealed that “economic problems, lack of money and labor migration” are the main factors of the radicalization of some Isfara residents … But some of the accused also said that their religious freedoms were limited in their homeland. (more…)
The first adherents of Bahá’í Faith appeared in Kyrgyzstan in the beginning of 90s. Today, 12 Bahá’í communities are registered in the country. One of the followers, Malika, told us about how people close to her react to her religious views in everyday life.
– I will begin by saying that since I was 8 years old, every day I intuitively prayed to God before sleeping. I thanked Him for the day and asked Him to bless my relatives with health and well-being.
When I was 10, I came across the religion of Islam for the first time. I set my heart upon studying in a religious school for girls. My mom did not allow me to do so back then. She said when I turn 18, I would be able to make rational and independent decisions on what to do. At the same time, my mom and my grandma were not against me studying and learning more about other religions.
Since the 6th grade, I came to love history and realized there are many other worldviews. When I became 18, I entered the faculty of history, where I was engaged in a research of different religions for two years. This is how I understood that the ideas and principles of Bahá’í are the closest to me.
My grandma was the first who got to know about my adherence to Bahá’í among my relatives. She listened to me attentively and then wondered of what does this religion say about the trade, as she used to work in the marketplace for many years. I explained to her that by doing her work, she also serves the people around her. She became happy and supported my decision.
When I told my mom, she was somewhat worried, as it was the first time she heard about it. But when she received adequate amount of information, she told me she was not against and she respected my choice.
My university friends reacted differently. While most of them reacted positively, one of my coursemates told me I was wrong and I betrayed the faith [Islam]. He told me he prayed for me changing my mind every day. Meanwhile, I prayed for him accepting my decision.
Three of my close friends from my university class made jokes about me being a member of a sect. They also had many questions about my faith. Nevertheless, they did not change their attitude to me, and we are friends for more than 5 years now.
With what regards the professors, one of them always told me I could not study to become a historian, i.e. be religious and simultaneously study science.
Last year, me and my friend confessed to each other in that we consider each other to be more than just friends and decided to talk. I told him I was Bahá’í. He shared with me a story of his grandfather telling him to marry only a Muslim before dying. Then I turned it all into a joke and told him I was not going to marry him and that we could remain wonderful friends. I still have good relations with him.
Overall, many people react positively. Many note that I become better in my reasoning, personality and spirituality.
The story was produced under IWPR project “Stability in Central Asia via Open Dialogue”. If you want to become a participant of our blog, share with us on how your belief or worldview reveal in your everyday life.