By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
TOSHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (Worthy News)– Christians in Uzbekistan are being blocked from burying their dead in state-owned cemeteries as secular officials bend to pressures from Islamic religious leaders, according to Barnabas Aid.
Although these cemeteries are state property, if they happen to be managed by a local mosque whose imam decides to act in accordance with strict sharia law — despite Uzbekistan's status as a secular state — no Christian burials will be held in them.
But when Protestant Christians in Karakalpakstan asked for their own burial plots, the only response they received was to lose their official registered status.
Burial rites are important in Central Asian culture; families of those denied these rights are often treated as social pariahs by the rest of the community. And unfortunately, Russian Orthodox graveyards aren't considered suitable for use by ethnic Uzbeks and Karakalpaks who regard them as the property of a foreign community.