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Authorities in Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in Uzbekistan, have renewed a crackdown on Protestant activity in recent weeks. On July 8, two Christians were handed 10-day prison terms to punish them for their religious activities. One of the imprisoned believers, Lepes Omarov, has previously endured opposition. In 2003, he was dismissed from his job as a teacher after he rejected pressure from a local ideology official to renounce his beliefs. In 2006, a criminal case was launched against him for violating the law on religion, but the case never came to trial.

Only state-registered Muslim communities and one Russian Orthodox parish are allowed to operate in Karakalpakstan. All other religious activity in the area is illegal. Police raided many homes belonging to Protestants between May and early July, confiscating Christian books, DVDs and computers. One believer was summoned to the Prosecutor's Office in mid-June and pressured to sign a pledge to no longer keep Christian books in his home upon threat of criminal prosecution. The believer refused to the sign and was eventually allowed to go. (Source: Forum18)

Pray for boldness and enduring faith for Christians in Karakalpakstan. Pray that they will confidently entrust themselves to Christ so that they can preach the gospel without hesitation (2 Timothy 1:7-12). Pray that the charges against the two believers will be dropped. Pray that religious freedom will be respected in Uzbekistan.

Click here for more information about the persecuted Church in Uzbekistan.