Friday, June 30, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... Turkmenistan!

Turkmenistan - Wikipedia

Turkmenistan - World Factbook

Turkmenistan - Nations Encyclopedia

Turkmenistan Project

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Turkmenistan, as it is customary in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

Turkmenistan was once part of the Soviet Union and is now officially a secular democratic republic. In reality it is a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by President Saparmurat Niyazov. Niyazov is a real class act. While 58% of his people live below the poverty line, he spends the nation's money building palaces and statues of himself. He also calls himself the "King of kings" and in 2001 he published Rukhname, a spiritual guide that became an informal legal code for the country. It is a guide to Turkmen national cultural and ethical personal behavior, forcibly imposed on the country and claimed to make up shortcomings in both the Bible and the Koran. Niyazov got the puppet legislature to declare him President for life in 1999.

The constitution grants a very long list of individual rights, but there is no freedom of the press. No one is allowed to describe the President or his family negatively. Reporters are not permitted to mention that the President is a very short man, or that he wears a toupee, either.

While there is no official national religion, there is very little freedom of religion in Turkmenistan. The government allows for meetings of registered religious groups, but the process is so complicated that most groups do not bother attempting to register and exist underground instead. A group must have at least 500 members in the location in which it is attempting to register. That requirement alone undoubtedly keeps many Christian denominations unregistered. As of 2002, the only two religions that were officially registered were Sunni Islam and Russian Orthodox Christianity. Approximately 89% of the population is Muslim.

As of 2001 there were only around 1,000 Evangelical Christians in Turkmenistan, and they are subject to state persecution. Earlier this month a Baptist Russian citizen residing in Turkmenistan was forcibly taken from his Turkmen wife and two young children and deported. One of the reasons he was deported was for holding religious services in his home. See the full story here.

Turkmenistan remains a country in dire need of the Gospel!


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Well done.

Most people know so little about these Central Asian countries.

It is tragic that after being freed from Communism, they have made so little progress towards democracy and are in such danger from Islam.

Every Blessing in Christ


The IBEX Scribe said...

Thanks, Matthew. I knew very little about it myself until yesterday. When I was younger we had an exchange student from Turkmenistan stay with us for a short time. All I remember learning about it was that she was Russian-speaking (I think the rest of the group she came with were from Russia), and that most of the country did NOT speak Russian and have much darker complexions.

The situation there is sad. I am grateful for the freedom I have as an American, particularly the freedom to worship God openly!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

The freedom to worship God and to preach His Gospel is so wonderful.