By BosNewsLife News Center
DUSHANBE/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Authorities in Tajikistan have fined a pastor after secret police raided a church service as part of a government-led campaign against Christians and other religious groups in the former Soviet nation, representatives told BosNewsLife.
Advocacy group Barnabas Fund, which supports the unidentified church, said police were also “examining confiscated materials” following the October 29 raid to see if they are ‘extremist.’”
In published remarks, a church source said security forces “behaved very rudely…and confiscated 45 copies of Christian books.”
They also took pictures of the Sunday school and a “lesson from one of the teachers,” added the source who wasn’t named amid apparent security concerns.
A church contact speaking on condition of anonymity reportedly said the church pastor could face imprisonment “if they will find some things in the books” deemed as ‘extremist.’
But Barnabas Fund told BosNewsLife that the pastor “who we are unable to name for security reasons had been fined, but would not face prison.”
The latest raid came months after Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov was jailed for three years when police confiscated what authorities reportedly called “subversive” hymnbooks from his church.
“Pray that God will give him a hymn of praise that will inspire those he encounters in prison to put their trust in the Lord,” Barnabas Fund said, referring to the Biblical Psalm 40.
Christians say the government of authoritarian President Emomali Rahmon, a former cotton farm boss, uses anti-extremism laws to crack down on Christians and others.
In 2011 laws were introduced banning children from taking part in religious activities, a cause of “great concern for Christian parents,” Barnabas Fund said.