Persecution of Non-Muslims (Tajikistan)

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Note that the persecution of apostates and the persecution of homosexuals are covered in separate pages

2 bomb blasts at Sonmin Grace Church kills at least 10 Christians and hospitalized another 39. Instead of arresting terrorists, authorities arrest and hold 12 church leaders as the "leading suspects"

Tajikistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to hold three members of the Sonmin Grace Church for interrogation 10 days after a fatal bombing in their church. The powerful double explosion during Sunday worship on October 1 killed at least 10 Christians and hospitalized 39 more, seven still in critical condition. Hours after the blasts left the three-story church complex in shambles, Tajik authorities detained 12 church leaders, holding them overnight for questioning. The detained Christians were "all church members and servants, and are said by the government to be the leading suspects," a source said. Although all but two of the Christians had been released by October 9, the number of confirmed detainees rose to three the next day. The church had been subjected to a number of recent threats, including a letter threatening to kill the pastor and disturb the church services.
Authorities Detain Three Church Members
World Watch Monitor, October 20, 2000

Authorities finally arrest real culprits behind deadly Sonmin Grace Church bombings; 3 local Islamic studies students, paper attacks ex-Muslims by calling terror attack, "God’s punishment on traitors to their faith"

On October 1, twin bomb blasts in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe killed a confirmed nine Christians and injured another 70 during a church worship service. Three weeks after the bombing, the government of Tajikistan announced that three men enrolled at a local institute for Islamic studies had been arrested and charged with organizing the bombing. The government inquiry into the bombing of Grace Sonmin Church began, inexplicably, with the detention and interrogation of more than a dozen key leaders of the church. It was not until October 31 that Dushanbe sources confirmed that the last church member had been released. At least one local newspaper reportedly described the bomb attack as "God’s punishment on traitors to their faith," in an apparent stab at church members from Muslim backgrounds who had converted to Christianity.
Authorities Arrest Islamic Extremists for Church Bombing
World Watch Monitor, November 17, 2000

2 bombings damage empty church buildings in the country's capital, and a New Year’s Eve attack against another church, described as "a deliberate attempt" to kill or injure church members, is foiled by church worker

A New Year’s Eve attack against a Christian church was described as "a deliberate attempt" to kill or injure church members. The bomb device was concealed in a basket of chocolates and sent to a church in a town outside Dushanbe. When a church worker became suspicious, the basket was taken outside where it exploded. No one was injured. The attacked church is one of a handful of "daughter churches" begun in outlying towns of Tajikistan by the Grace Sonmin Church of Dushanbe. The mother congregation suffered a deadly October 1 bombing, which killed nine worshippers and wounded another 49 during a Sunday morning service. Two other bombings on December 31 damaged empty church buildings in the capital of this Central Asian state.
Another Church Bombing Attempt Confirmed
World Watch Monitor, February 16, 2001

Century-old synagogue (the last remaining synagogue in the country) is finally razed by the government. Jews who opposed the demolition are threatened by officials, but most are afraid to speak out

The authorities in the central Asian republic of Tajikistan have started to demolish the country's last synagogue.

It is being destroyed to make way for the construction of a new presidential complex in the capital, Dushanbe.

Members of Tajikistan's ancient Jewish community say they have not been given adequate compensation to enable them to build a new synagogue.

Jews have lived in Tajikistan for many centuries, but the community declined after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Bulldozers have already destroyed part of the compound. The demolition of the synagogue building itself is expected to go ahead later in the year.

Dushanbe's small Jewish community, mostly poor and elderly, have almost resigned themselves to losing their only place of worship.

But they say the distant plot of land the government has given them in exchange is inadequate compensation.

They cannot afford to build a new synagogue, and they say the new land, on the edge of the city, is too far away.

Afraid to speak out

The current synagogue sits on a prime site in the middle of the capital, where the government is building a large new office complex for the president.

The rabbi says the community still hopes the government, or international Jewish groups, will help them to acquire an appropriate building for a new synagogue.

But people familiar with the Jewish community in Dushanbe say those opposed to the demolition had been threatened by officials and most of the congregation are afraid to speak out.

Tajikistan's Jews are members of the ancient community of Persian-speaking Bukharan Jews, who have lived in central Asia for more than 2,000 years.

Dushanbe's synagogue was built about 100 years ago, in what was then one of the city's two Jewish quarters.
Last Tajik synagogue to be razed
Ian MacWilliam, BBC News, March 6, 2006
Tajikistan has knocked down its only synagogue to make way for a new presidential palace, casting the Jewish community into despair, community members said on Wednesday.

24-year-old visiting relatives dressed as Father Christmas is stabbed and beaten to death by a crowd of Muslims shouting "You infidel!"

A young man dressed as "Father Frost" - the Russian equivalent of Father Christmas - was stabbed to death in Tajikistan on Monday in an attack police believe was motivated by religious hatred, two police sources said.

A crowd attacked 24-year-old Parviz Davlatbekov and stabbed him with a knife as he visited relatives in the early hours of Monday dressed as Father Frost, who by tradition brings Russian children presents at New Year. Russian cultural influence remains strong in Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic.

"We have witness statements that say the crowd beat Parviz and stabbed him with a knife, shouting: 'You infidel!'," one of the sources told Reuters.

The second source said religious hatred was being investigated as the motive for the crime, which occurred in the capital Dushanbe.

Tajikistan is officially secular, although the vast majority of its 7.7 million people are Muslims.
. . .

Tokhir Normatov, chief of staff of Tajikistan's Interior Ministry, said the victim had died in hospital from a loss of blood, but made no comment on the motive for the attack.
"Father Christmas" stabbed to death in Tajikistan
Roman Kozhevnikov, Reuters, January 2, 2012